Shingles vaccine program expanded

The Government of Yukon is expanding the eligibility for the publicly funded shingles vaccine program for Yukoners. The Shingles vaccine will be available starting December 6, 2021, in Whitehorse pharmacies to all Yukoners aged 65 to 79. The previous age eligibility was for those 65 to 70.

Shingles is a painful condition caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. After someone has had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles, which manifests as an unpleasant rash.

The shingles vaccine, Shingrix, has been publicly funded in the Yukon since January 2021. The Shingrix vaccine is given as two doses preferably two months apart in order to achieve vaccine efficacy of 90 per cent.

When we first announced this program, we committed to revisiting the age of eligibility based on evidence. While evidence on the durability of Shingrix is still being assessed, we do know that the risk of severe illness from Shingles becomes more significant after age 65. As a result, I am happy to announce that the shingles vaccine will now be available, free of charge, to Yukoners between the ages of 65 to 79.   

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy Anne McPhee

We are pleased the Government of Yukon followed up on the request of many seniors to expand free coverage of the Shingrix vaccine beyond the age of 70, particularly as the risk increases with age. It is a real benefit and a very welcome news to seniors without extended health benefits and/or limited income.

Seniors Action Yukon Coordination Team

Quick facts 
  • Funding the shingles vaccine is in line with a recommendation in the Putting People First report, as well as feedback received as part of the Aging in Place public engagement, and the 2018 Health Status Report on Seniors.

  • There is an increased risk of shingles for older adults. While it is not a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful.

  • Shingrix is a two-dose non-live vaccine that has been shown to be 90 per cent effective in preventing shingles.

  • The Shingles vaccine reduces the risk of severe illness and hospitalizations, reduces health system costs and helps divert pressure from primary and acute care settings. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles.

  • The shingles vaccine is available free of charge at Whitehorse pharmacies.

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

Julie Ménard
Communications, Health and Social Services

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