Health chiefs are urging pensioners in Brighton and Hove to take up the offer of a free shingles vaccine.
Local doctors’ practices are offering the vaccination as part of the NHS shingles immunisation campaign for 2017-18 which starts on Friday (1 September).
The take up rate in Brighton and Hove is just under 30 per cent compared with a national figure of 42 per cent.
Public health medicine consultant Max Kammerling, the screening and immunisation lead for the NHS in Surrey and Sussex, said: “As people get older their immune system naturally weakens which is why those aged 70 and over are more likely to get shingles.
“Shingles can be very painful and debilitating and lead to health problems long after the initial rash has disappeared.
“It can also be fatal for around 1 in 1,000 over-70s who develop it.”
Dr Kammerling, who previously worked in public health in Brighton and Hove, added: “I would encourage all patients who are eligible to take up the offer from their GP surgery and get vaccinated against the virus.”
Many patients have the singles vaccine at the same time as their annual flu jab.
NHS England said: “Shingles is a very itchy, painful, burning group of blisters caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus.
“The rash commonly affects one area of the body, often the chest, and can last up to four weeks.
“However, for some people, pain can persist for several months, or even years, after the rash has disappeared.
“You are eligible for the shingles vaccine if you are aged 70 or 78 years old. In addition, anyone who was eligible for immunisation in the previous three years of the programme but missed out on their shingles vaccination remains eligible until their 80th birthday.
“This includes people in their seventies who were born after 1 September 1942 and people who are 79 years old.
“The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection into the upper arm. Unlike the flu jab, you only need to have the vaccine once.”