Pharmac plans to fund shingles vaccine Monday, 18 September 2017

Source: Radio New Zealand, 18 September 2017

Pharmac is set to fund a vaccine for shingles, a disease the agency says can be 'life-changing' for older people.

The disease, properly known as herpes zoster, causes a skin rash that can be painful, prolonged and debilitating.

About one in three people get shingles, which is caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus.

Pharmac is proposing to fund the vaccine so it would be free for people aged 65 or older, from as early as April next year.

600,000 people would be eligible for the vaccine.

Shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia - a complication that affects nerve fibres and skin - could both be "life changing", Pharmac said, "as some patients do not recover to the point where they are well enough to return to independent living".

Pharmac's formal assessment of the funding application for the vaccine recommended that it be made universally available to people over 65, with a two-year catch-up programme provided for those between 65 and 80 years of age.

The agency will now formally consult on its plans.