Vaccine for shingles now free to seniors.

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 15, 2016



Hearing that – Starting today, the shingles vaccine will be available across the province for people 65 to 70 years of age might get little more than a shrug from most people.

For those who have experienced shingles it is no laughing matter.


Shingles is a very painful condition – it isn’t limited to people over 65.

“Shingles is a painful illness caused by the chickenpox virus that can reactivate without warning later in life. The shingles vaccine lowers the risk of getting shingles significantly and reduces the chance of complications from this disease for people without medical contraindications.

The government is investing $68 million over three years in order to publicly fund the vaccine, which will reduce the likelihood of Ontario seniors developing the painful infection, and reduce visits to emergency rooms and hospitals.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, affects more than 42,000 people every year in Ontario and can cause complications such as loss of vision and debilitating nerve pain. Studies show that the vaccine is highly effective when seniors are vaccinated between the ages of 65 – 70, and this new program aligns with scientific and expert recommendations from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization and Ontario’s Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Those who are eligible for the shingles vaccine should contact their primary care doctor or nurse practitioner to receive the vaccination.

Approximately 850,000 seniors between the ages of 65 and 70 years are expected to be eligible to receive the publicly funded shingles vaccine.

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3 comments to Vaccine for shingles now free to seniors.

  • MrBean

    65-70 years of age? What about those over 70?

  • The absolute risk of getting Shingles is btw 10-30% (multivariables such as age, health, etc play a role) and this vaccine, Zostavax, reduces the risk of Shingles by 50% and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) by 67%. Furthermore, the vaccine’s efficacy is only 50% and the antibody’s geometric titre is currently only for 5yrs and hence a booster maybe need especially for the elderly.

    Thus the number need to treat (NNT) is this:
    for every 364 patients vaccinated with ZOSTAVAX, 1 post-herpetic neuralgia case (PHN) was prevented & 6 shingles cases were prevented over ~ 3 yrs.

    Seems a lot of public money for truly little benefit. This money would be better spent funding hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries which have 100% efficacy (outside of the rare operative risks) and are considered the top three life health quality indices in the baby boomers.

    PS: that is not to say that Shingles isn’t a horrible disease to acquire…….it is!! Prompt diagnosis, aggressive treatment with antivirals (acyclovir, Valtrex) and Lyrica usually helps to rectify the majority issues.

  • Robert Missen

    My crazy gambit to hold off getting the vaccine has paid off. Now, to high tail it to my doctor’s office.