Shingles vaccine

The shingles vaccine helps to protect people from shingles. Find out when the vaccine is given and how it works.

Who is eligible for the shingles vaccine?

You’re eligible for the free shingles vaccine if you were aged 70 or 65 on 1 September 2023. This excludes people who were aged 66 to 69 on this date.

If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, you can use the age eligibility calculator to check.

You’re also eligible to get the vaccine if you:

  • are aged 71-79 (and have not previously had the vaccine)
  • have a severely weakened immune system and are aged 50 or over
  • are about to start immunosuppressive therapy and are aged 50 or over
  • have received a stem cell transplant and are aged 18 or over
  • are having or have had CAR-T therapy and are aged 18 or over

Your local NHS immunisation team will contact you when you’re eligible to get the vaccine. This will be from January 2024 onwards. Please wait to be contacted.

I’m not currently eligible for the vaccine. When will I get it?

When you are aged 65 or 70 on 1 September, you will be invited for your shingles vaccine during the 12 months after 1 September.

For example, if you turned 65 on 31 August 2023, you’ll be invited to have your vaccine between 1 September 2023 and 31 August 2024. However, if you turned 65 on 2 September 2023, you’ll be invited for your shingles vaccine between 1 September 2024 and 1 August 2025.

In 2028, the shingles vaccine will be offered to everyone who is aged 60, 65 or 70 only on 1 September. For example if you’re 61 on 1st September 2028, you won’t be eligible for the vaccine.

From 2033, the shingles vaccine will be offered to everyone aged 60 or over who has not already been vaccinated.

Why am I not currently eligible for the vaccine?

The age for shingles vaccination has been lowered from 70 to 60. This change is being phased in to deliver the shingles vaccine effectively alongside other immunisation programmes.

This phased roll-out is based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). When any vaccination programme is introduced, recommendations are made about who’ll be offered the vaccine and when they’ll be invited to come forward. These decisions are based on a number of factors, including the risk of the disease and the effectiveness of the vaccine in different age groups.

Do I need the shingles vaccine if I’ve never had chickenpox?

Yes. The chances are that you may have had chickenpox at some point without knowing it. Some people have chickenpox without displaying any of the typical chickenpox symptoms.

Do I need the shingles vaccine if I’ve never had shingles before?

Yes. Even if you’ve already had shingles, you should still get it again. The vaccine will reduce your risk of getting shingles again.

Why should I have the shingles vaccine?

Shingles can be very painful and is more common among older people. The older you are, the worse it can be. For some, the pain caused by shingles can last for many years.

People who have a severely weakened immune system are also at higher risk of getting shingles and experiencing further complications from it.

Every year in Scotland, around 400 people aged 70 and over will be hospitalised due to shingles and related complications. 

The shingles vaccine helps to build up your immunity to the virus. This means, if you do get shingles, your body will fight it off more easily.

Getting the vaccine will:

  • reduce your risk of developing shingles by over 70%
  • reduce your risk of experiencing long-term pain from shingles
  • reduce your risk of being hospitalised with complications from shingles
What is shingles?

Shingles is caused by a virus called varicella zoster. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. When you recover from chickenpox most of this virus is destroyed, but some of the virus survives and lies inactive in your body’s nervous system.

The virus can then become active again later in life. This normally happens when your immune system has been weakened by:

  • age
  • stress
  • illness
  • certain treatments that can reduce your immunity

The shingles vaccine helps to protect you by boosting your immunity.

More about the symptoms of shingles

One in four adults develop shingles and one in five people with shingles go on to develop longer-lasting pain.

What vaccine will be offered?

From September 2023, the Shingrix vaccine will be used in Scotland.

You can view the vaccine ingredients in the Shingrix patient information leaflet.

Are there any reasons I shouldn’t have the shingles vaccine?

You shouldn’t have the shingles vaccine if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to:

  • any of the ingredients in the vaccine
  • a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine
Does the shingles vaccine contain pork (porcine) gelatine?

No, the shingles vaccine used in Scotland from September 2023 onwards does not contain pork (porcine) gelatine.

Is the shingles vaccine a live vaccine?

No, the shingles vaccine is not a live vaccine. It cannot cause shingles.

How many doses of the vaccine do I need?

You need to have 2 doses of the shingles vaccine for it to be effective.

You’ll be offered your second dose 2 to 12 months after your first dose.

How do we know the vaccine is safe?

The shingles vaccination programme was introduced in Scotland in 2013.

All medicines (including vaccines) are tested for safety and effectiveness. The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.

Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored.

Read more about how we know vaccines are safe

How do I get the shingles vaccine?

You’ll be contacted by your local NHS immunisation team when you’re eligible to be immunised. You can get the vaccine at any time of the year, but most immunisation teams will begin inviting patients forward from January onwards.

Find out how to contact your local NHS immunisation team regarding your vaccination appointment

Can the shingles vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Speak to a healthcare professional about getting other vaccines at the same time. They’ll advise what’s best for you.

What are the side effects of this vaccine?

Side effects are usually quite mild and don’t last very long.

Around the injection site you might experience:

  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling

You may also experience:

  • muscle pain
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • chills
  • a fever
  • a general unwell feeling
  • a headache
  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • stomach pain

Contact your GP practice if:

  • you have side effects that last for more than a few days
Where can I report side effects?

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card Scheme.

This can be done by:

  • visiting the Yellow Card Scheme website
  • phoning the free Yellow Card hotline on 0800 731 6789 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Vaccine Safety Net Member

Public Health Scotland is a proud member of the Vaccine Safety Net and partners with NHS inform to provide reliable information on vaccine safety.

The Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of websites, evaluated by the World Health Organization, that provides reliable information on vaccine safety.

More about the Vaccine Safety Net