We all have unique immunisation needs, so talk to your doctor for personal advice. To help start the conversation, check out the vaccines recommended for you according to your Health, Age, Lifestyle and Occupation (HALO) attachment.

Immunisation is a proven and safe way to be protected against diseases that cause serious illness and sometimes death. Every day, immunisation saves lives and makes it possible for Victorians to live free from the illness and the disability caused by many vaccine-preventable diseases.

Aside from the influenza vaccination, another example is the shingles vaccination.

You may recall having chickenpox as a child, but did you know that anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). After you recover from chickenpox, the virus continues to live in some of your nerve cells.

Medical science doesn't really know what triggers reactivation of the virus, which usually starts with tender painful skin signals then results in a painful blistering rash on one side of the body along a nerve pathway called shingles. It can cause burning, shooting pain, tingling, and itching, and may affect any part of the body, including the face.

The virus from the blistering rash can be transmitted by touch to someone with no immunity to chickenpox, like a baby, or someone who is immunocompromised. The person may then develop chickenpox.

We do know that older people are more susceptible to shingles as they age due to a natural decline of their immune system. 

About 20 to 30 per cent of people will suffer from shingles in their lifetime, most after the age of 50 years. Sometimes pain in the affected area can be severe and prolonged. When it lasts more than three months it is called post herpetic neuralgia. Other complications include scarring, skin infections, loss of vision or hearing, pneumonia and neurological complications. 

You can protect yourself. A free vaccine to protect against shingles is available to Medicare card holders aged 70-79 years. 

For more information about immunisation visit the Better Health Channel or watch this video


More information

For more information about shingles- its symptoms and treatment:

  • Visit the Better Health Channel shingles factsheet
  • See your doctor
  • Telephone NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
  • Telephone the National Immunisation Infoline on 1800 671 811.