Shingles vaccine not a priority

In a recent IQVIA Medibus survey of GPs, almost 80 per cent of those surveyed said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ recommend Zostavax (Zoster Virus Vaccine Live Oka/Merck) to their 70-79-year-old patients. This is the only government-funded shingles vaccine available on the National Immunisation Program.

However, 45 per cent of GPs surveyed said they believed their older patients failed to regard shingles vaccination as an important priority. 

These results show healthcare professionals have more work to do to ensure patients know their risk of shingles and understand the importance of shingles vaccination to help protect themselves against shingles now.

The research also found that 39 per cent of GPs surveyed believed patients in the cohort may already have a number of other comorbidities, so shingles is not a priority for them.

“We do know that this patient population may have other comorbidities and time is a challenge for GPs, but we need to remember that shingles can strike at any time and its complications can be serious and long lasting,” 

It’s important patients are aware of the risks so that they can make an informed decision about shingles vaccination.” Executive Director of the Westmead Institute for Medical Research and the institute’s Centre for Virus Research, Professor Tony Cunningham said .

“Strong recommendation from a healthcare professional is the most important predictor of vaccination, so this research does show GPs and other healthcare professionals have a continued and important role to play in ensuring our patients know the importance of shingles vaccination.”

The research found that 97 per cent of GPs surveyed vaccinate this cohort against shingles opportunistically in their clinics and just under half of their clinics run a recall program.