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Calls grow for expanded vaccine support

Hibiscus Coast App

Staff Reporter

06 July 2024, 1:29 AM

Calls grow for expanded vaccine supportConcerns raised over shingles vaccine accessibility for seniors.

Local experts are advocating for increased support for older Kiwis, aged 65 and above, amid concerns over access to shingles vaccinations.

Shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, poses significant health risks, particularly for adults aged 50 and older.

Complications can include severe nerve pain, vision and hearing loss, and other serious issues.

Jo Millar of Grey Power highlighted gaps in the current funded vaccine programme, stressing the challenges faced by seniors in accessing timely vaccinations.

"Many older adults are at risk and unable to afford vaccines privately," Millar explained.

With a projected increase in the elderly population, experts warn of the growing impact of shingles-related hospitalisations among those aged 60 and above.

Dr. Tyson Oberndorfer emphasised the debilitating effects of shingles and its common complication, postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which can lead to long-term pain and other health issues.

"Limiting vaccine funding to those in their 65th year overlooks vulnerable older adults," Dr. Oberndorfer cautioned.

Amanda Southcombe from GSK NZ supported efforts to prioritise vaccine investments, aiming to alleviate pressure on the healthcare system.