Update on Shingles vaccine

As some of you may know from my earlier post on November 8th, my GP practice asked me to attend for a Shingles vaccine recently.  I explained to the practice nurse that I thought I had already received the vaccine but she said there was no trace of this on my records.  She also said she couldn’t give me the vaccine if I had already received it, so she suggested I contact my old GP practice for further information.  I did and they confirmed I had had the Shingles vaccine in 2018 ?presumably the Zostavax? but because I was no longer registered with them, they couldn’t say anymore.

This morning, I have been round the houses trying to get NHS departments to speak to each other, to confirm the details of my Shingles vaccine and to update my medical records.  I tried ringing Primary Care Support England this morning but was referred back to my current GP who needs to speak to them personally first, quoting a reference number I was given, before Primary Care Support England can contact my old GP to have the Shingles records released, if indeed they still exist?  ALL my medical records should have been transferred over to my new GP practice two years ago, so they have had plenty of time.  I wonder what else is missing from my records?

My GP confirmed last Friday that Shingrix could be safely given 5 or more years after Zostavax, so based on this advice I wouldn’t need vaccinating in any event at this time.  Thank you all for your support and advice.  I have learnt a great deal about Shingles and the superiority of the Shingrix vaccine and should I ever receive another Shingles jab, you will be the first to know.


update on vaccine

by new to pace.... - 2022-11-21 09:29:51

Hopefully your records will be transfered.. 

Shows us that we need to be on top of everything.  Each time we transfer to new practices.  Also to make sure our visits are also put in right.  I try to keep my own lists of what and when i have some thing done.  Since it seems when i transfer to a new Dr.  they have me fill in forms with all my information.

new to pace 

I wish we had better online access to our medical records

by Gemita - 2022-11-21 11:07:21

Hello new to pace,

Yes I hope my records will be transferred and my confidence can be restored.

I usually keep diary notes of all our doctor’s appointments, investigations, annual vaccinations - in fact any medical appointment.  I can recall going for my annual flu jab one year and being offered the Shingles vaccine at the same time, so it wasn’t scheduled at all.  The only time I made a note in my diary of an influenza and shingles vaccine appointment was on 25th October 2017 when I thought both of us had received the vaccine.  Clearly only my husband received his on this date.  

I take your point about needing to keep on top of everything.  Transferring to another GP practice after 40 years with our previous practice was quite an effort for everyone involved.  I think it is unacceptable though that patients should be responsible for ensuring that their medical records are up to date and accurate.  Imagine an elderly patient living alone having to take on this responsibility.  Although I have online access to my GP practice to make an appointment or to order my prescriptions, I am still unable to view my records held by the GP practice.  I think once this barrier is removed and I can have full access (whenever that will be) I will be better able to keep an eye on things.

Web search

by AgentX86 - 2022-11-21 12:05:16

Hi Gemita,

Try this site. The recommended time between the two seems to be all over the place, from eight weeks to five years. NHS apparenlty has other ideas but I probably wouldn't have told them that I'd had Zostavax.


Medical Records

by Marybird - 2022-11-21 13:12:26

Hi Gemita, 

Well, here is hoping your last shingles shot is still working to protect you from shingles. Sounds like you have gone round robin and back to get your records, and to get the NHS people to talk to each other!.

While its not a bad idea to keep a diary or records of your medical encounters ( visits, procedures, immunizations, etc) it's still the responsibility of the medical providers to keep those records. And to provide those records to the patient on request. I'm sorry you've had to go through all this to try and see if you should have a Shingrix shot at this time.

I know we have laws on the books here in the US about healthcare providers keeping patient records, and disposition of those records in the event a provider retires, dies, goes out of business ( they have to find a place to store those records and to inform patients how to get those records). I don't think providers always do this so a patient could well run into the same problems you did. I know another issue with immunizations here ( mentioned by my daughter, a nurse in a multi- doctor practice) is that when retail pharmacies give vaccinations, they apparently don't all keep records for this. So if a patient doesn't have that record, or can't recall when/if or what vaccine they may have received, there is no way for anyone to know. 

Anyway, stay well!

Yes I am beginning to think I should have stayed quiet !

by Gemita - 2022-11-21 13:44:13

Hi AgentX86 and Marybird, yes I hope my Shingles vaccine is still giving reasonable protection. I too am beginning to think I might have done better to have stayed quiet.  It would certainly have been a lot easier, although it was the fact that they didn't have it in my records that really set the alarm bells ringing.  I started questioning if they knew what they were doing and whether I would really get the appropriate vaccine on this occasion.  When I lose confidence, it is usually best to walk away without any treatment at all.  Sad I know.

When Nurse Sally eventually gave me the Pneumonia vaccine instead, before she put the needle to my arm, I said "can we really be certain that I haven't already had my Pneumonia vaccine"?

AgentX86, thank you for the link.  Yes I too have read that although intervals shorter than 5 years have not been studied, there are no indications that Shingrix would be less safe or effective when given less than 5 years after Zostavax. 

Marybird, I agree when retail pharmacies give the vaccines, I am always concerned that they may not be stored on our NHS records, although they always ask for our unique NHS numbers.  I had all my Covid vaccinations done at my hospital in London, while my husband had his done locally (pharmacy and GP practice)

Patient Records

by IAN MC - 2022-11-21 14:44:59

Hi Gemita    I sometimes wonder if we live in the same country.

For several years now my GP practice has had patient records readily available online. I simply  go  into the practice website and then into the software " Patient Access "

Here I can book appts, order drugs, look at test results, see documents and copies of correspondence relevant to my healthcare, check on all vaccinations ,consultations, referrals, allergies and medical history.

Often I see test-results even before the Dr has seen them !   Obviously there must be some things which are for " doctor's eyes only "  but very few I suspect.


I know Ian, I agree with you

by Gemita - 2022-11-21 15:06:54

I think things are pretty bad at our new practice and I wish I had never agreed to move away from our old one where no doubt I would have been able to view all my records online by now.  

Depends on the Doctor or Practice, I Think

by Marybird - 2022-11-21 19:22:31

Ian and Gemita, at least that has been my experience. The information available on the patient portal for both my primary care doc and cardiologist, as well as the eye doctor, are very limited, don't include results of all testing that's done,just a record that they WERE done. Lab test results are there, but no results for x-rays, imaging, or other procedures, or consult notes. These results can be requested if the patient wants to see them,  but they won't appear on the portal.

On the other hand, the patient portal for the oncology docs/clinic I go to now show it all, I don't think they miss anything. That's included detailed operative reports, consultation notes, pathology reports, genetics testing results, details of procedures done, and of course, lab results.

Makes me wonder how many practices do have a policy to show it all to a patient via the patient portal?

Patient portal

by Lavender - 2022-11-21 19:29:03

Every professional I see has a patient portal. My gosh-when I am in the emergency room, or inpatient at the hospita, my phone gets a text alerting me to see my test results long before a doctor shows up to report. 

My health records are all online. However there can be lost info if I switch doctors and the vaccine dates are not transferred. 

My friend did get the old shingles vaccine that you had but when the Shingrix came out, she got the two doses of that as well with no problem. 

Access to records certainly varies from hospital to hospital and between local practices

by Gemita - 2022-11-22 03:38:07

Marybird, our main London hospitals give good access to our records, but local hospitals and practices can certainly vary in what is available to patients online.  There is no doubt that giving patients full access to their records is low priority for some practices who don't have the staff or time to provide this service and have too many patients to deal with in any event.  That seems to be the case with my new practice.  Of course I appreciate resources should go first to treating a patient coming through the door with an acute or chronic condition, but the NHS promised us online access to our GP records some years ago and this has been another broken promise for some of us, although the following links are a hopeful sign that access might finally be around the corner, at least for any records from now on (not perhaps for long past records)? I will have to read this in more detail.



Lavender there would appear to be no doubt that Shingrix is more effective than Zostavax and yet Zostavax is still being used over here in the UK.  Of course only one dose of Zostavax is given to each patient as opposed to the required two doses of Shingrix to obtain full benefits, so Shingrix will be more expensive to adminster than Zostavax.   The live vaccine Zostavax is contraindicated for immunosuppressed individuals but otherwise is still mainly used in the UK.  Perhaps we will catch up eventually.  I will ask for the Shingrix vaccine next year, so that I will have good immunity until my 80th birthday.  If it is not offered on the NHS, I will have it done in the private sector.

Although switching to another GP practice was generally a bad decision, our new practice does have an excellent pharmacy service attached to it and the staff have been so helpful in getting our medication reviewed with excellent results for my husband so far 

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