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UK First Major European Country To Run Zostavax Nationwide Shingles Vaccination Programme

Vaccine to be given to UK seniors to help protect against

The UK has decided to launch the first-ever national shingles immunisation campaign in using the innovative from MSD, the joint venture in Europe between MSD and .

Eligible senior members of the public will be able to receive the Zostavax vaccine during regular health visits or at the same time as their seasonal flu jab. The decision from the UK’s follows a comprehensive assessment of the health and economic benefits of shingles vaccination.

Zostavax is the first and only vaccine available for the prevention of shingles and the long lasting nerve pain that may follow the disease, known as post herpetic neuralgia. The vaccine is licensed in Europe for immunisation of adults over 50 years* and can be given as a single injection.

Shingles is a painful and debilitating disease that affects around one in four[1],[2] people during their life time. Anyone who has had chickenpox (95 % of the European population[3]) is potentially at risk as it is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox (varicella) virus that most people get during childhood.

Shingles is typically characterised by an extremely painful rash and blisters on the skin and it can lead to serious complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia, a painful and long-lasting condition caused by damage to the nerves by the virus. The risk and severity of shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia increase with age and 2/3 of shingles cases occur in people over 50 years[4].

“Until the introduction of Zostavax, there was nothing we could do to protect ourselves against this painful and debilitating disease,” said Jean-Paul Kress, President of Sanofi Pasteur MSD. “We’re very pleased that the UK Department of Health has recognized the importance of vaccinating against shingles and we look forward to more partnerships in Europe for immunisation with this truly innovative product.”

Zostavax has been used in the United States since 2006 and in Canada since 2009 and more than 11 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed since its launch.

* immunocompetent adults (SmPC)


1) Bowsher D. The lifetime occurrence of Herpes zoster and prevalence ofpostherpetic neuralgia: A retrospective survey in an elderly population. Eur J Pain1999; 3 : 335-42

2) Miller E, Marshall R, Vurdien J. Epidemiology, outcome and control ofvaricella zoster infection. Rev Med Microbiol 1993: 4: 222-30

3) Johnson RW, Wasner G, Saddier P, Baron R. Postherpetic neuralgia:epidemiology, Pathophysiology and management. Expert Rev Neurother 2007;7(11):1581-95.

4) Brisson M, Edmunds WJ, Law B, et al. Epidemiology of varicella zoster virusinfection in Canada and the United Kingdom. Epidemiol Infect 2001;127(2):305-14.

Source: Sanofi Pasteur MSD