Public Health England (PHE) has urged GPs in England to continue offering the herpes zoster vaccine to eligible cohorts to improve uptake levels.
This follows the publication of PHE’s latest herpes zoster vaccination programme evaluation report (1 September 2017 to 31 August 2018), which shows that zoster vaccine coverage in the routine cohort (aged 70 years on 1 September 2017) was 44.4 per cent in 2017/18, representing a 17.4 per cent decline since the start of the programme and a 3.9 per cent decrease since 2016/17.
A decrease in coverage was also observed in the catch-up cohort (aged 78 years) to 46.2 per cent in 2017/18, a 3.2 per cent decrease from 2016/17.
However, to capture all vaccination activity reflecting the eligibility age changes introduced in 2017 it is important to also consider coverage in the 69- and 77-year-old cohorts in 2017/18, noted PHE. By August 2018, uptake was 18.7 per cent and 20.3 per cent among 69- and 77-year-olds respectively, compared with 4.9 per cent and 5.5 per cent in 2016/17 respectively.
“It is therefore likely that part of the decrease in coverage in the routine and catch up cohorts evaluated in 2017-18 is a data artefact related to the change in eligibility criteria as a proportion of those eligible under the new criteria for routine and catch-up vaccinations are in the 69- and 77-year-old cohorts respectively,” says the report.
This thus suggests that shingles vaccine coverage has increased compared to that achieved in 2016-17, possibly reversing the downward trend seen in previous years, PHE concluded.