Take 5: Varicella zoster vaccination

2 minute read

How successful is this vaccine in preventing shingles?


From November last year, older Australians could receive the varicella zoster vaccination for free as part of the National Immunisation Program.

Zostavax is a live attenuated vaccine that is administered subcutaneously in a single dose.

“It’s about 50% effective on average at preventing shingles for people aged 60 and over,” says Dr Frank Beard, a staff specialist at The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

A US study showed that Zostavax reduced the risk of shingles in people over 60 by 51% and the risk of postherpetic neuralgia by 67%.

“It is somewhat more effective at preventing postherpetic neuralgia, which is a very nasty and debilitating complication,” says Dr Beard.

The government is funding varicella zoster vaccinations for all adults when they turn 70 on an ongoing basis.

There will also be a five-year catch up program for people aged 70 to 79.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends the vaccine for adults between 60 and 69 years of age but people in this age group need a private prescription as it is not funded.

In this video, Dr Beard discusses:

– Varicella zoster vaccination and the national immunisation program

– How successful is this vaccine in preventing shingles?

– Will boosters be recommended for varicella zoster vaccinations?

Click here for more information on Zostavax.

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