NHS to invite almost a million more people for shingles vaccine as human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine moves to one dose

From today almost a million more people (900,000) will become eligible for a shingles vaccination, on the same day that the HPV vaccine moves to a single dose for under 25s.

The NHS has updated two of its life-saving vaccination programmes, following the latest advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which will make it easier for people to get protected, especially those who are more vulnerable.


The shingles vaccination programme has today been expanded to protect more people at an earlier age. Those newly eligible for a shingles vaccine include all those turning 65 and 70 from 1 September 2023 and those aged 50 and over who have a severely weakened immune system. They will be invited to book an appointment with their GP surgery. Those aged 70-79 remain eligible for the vaccine.


One in 5 people will go on to develop shingles in their lifetime and symptoms of the disease can include blindness, hearing loss, nerve pain and in some cases, death. Shingles can occur at any age, but the risk and severity of shingles increases with age and complications are higher in individuals who have severely weakened immune systems and those who are older.


In the first five years after a shingles vaccine was introduced in England in 2013, there were 45,000 fewer GP consultations and 1,840 fewer hospitalisations for shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia, showing the overall impact of the programme in protecting the public while freeing up NHS capacity.


Also, from today, under 25s will now only need one dose of the HPV vaccine instead of two, making it easier and more convenient for young people to get protected.


The HPV vaccine helps to prevent HPV related cancers from developing in boys and girls. While most types of HPV are harmless, some high-risk types can lead to the development of cancers, including cervical cancer, cancers of the head and neck (mouth and throat) and cancers of the anus and genital areas.


The expert advice from the JCVI was that one dose is just as effective at preventing HPV-related cancers as two doses in those aged under 25. The move aims to make it more convenient for people to ensure they are protected and up to date with their vaccinations.


One dose of the vaccine will now be offered to those in year 8 (aged 12 or 13 years) via the school aged immunisation service. Children will be able to get their vaccine either in school or at a community clinic.


Those eligible aged under 25 that have already received one dose of the vaccine by September 2023 will be considered fully vaccinated – and those who missed out on their one dose HPV vaccine can catch up until their 25th birthday via their GP practice.
One dose of the HPV vaccine will also be offered to eligible gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men that are aged under 25 through sexual health clinics.


Eligible gay and bisexual men aged 25 to 45 years will continue to receive two doses of the vaccine and those who are immunosuppressed or known to be HIV-positive will continue to receive three doses.


To date, the NHS HPV vaccination programme has helped to drastically reduce HPV infections and the rate of cervical cancer with studies suggesting that the HPV programme has prevented around 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.


The HPV vaccination programme is considered to be one of the most successful in the world, with high uptake and millions of doses given since its launch in 2008. When combined with cervical screening, the HPV vaccine has the potential to eliminate cervical cancer completely.


A Lancet study also found cervical cancer rates were 87% lower in young women who had been eligible for a HPV vaccine compared to young women who were born earlier and did not receive the jab.


Steve Russell, National Director of Vaccinations and Screening at NHS England, said: “Making these vital changes to two life-saving NHS vaccination programmes will help protect millions of people, prevent disease, and ultimately save lives.


“These measures have the backing of the country’s leading medical experts who continually look for ways to update our programmes and ensure those who need it are offered the best protection against serious illnesses.


“If you are eligible and have a chance to receive one of these vaccines, please do not ignore it – these vaccines continue to save lives so please take up the opportunity when you can”.


Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Shingles is an extremely painful condition and complications can be long-lasting. Older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable so I’d encourage all those newly eligible from today to come forward.


“With the HPV vaccine, a move to one dose for most of those eligible will make it quicker and easier to get protected. Latest evidence shows that one dose provides just as robust protection as two, so young people can be confident they are protected against the risks, including cancers, that the HPV virus poses”.