First-ever Shingles Awareness Week sheds light on misconceptions about risk of developing shingles in older adults and the need for more education

  • GSK has launched the first Shingles Awareness Week to educate the general public about shingles in conjunction with the International Federation on Aging

  • Over 90% of adults over 50 already carry the virus that causes shingles and 1 in 3 adults will develop shingles in their lifetime

  • Yet in a global survey of adults aged 50 and over, only 7% on average believe they are at high risk of developing shingles.

SINGAPORE, February 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — GlaxoSmithKline, in collaboration with the International Federation on Aging (IFA), is raising awareness of shingles through the first ever Global Shingles Awareness Week (February 28March 6).

More than 90% of adults aged 50 and over already carry the virus that causes shingles[i],[ii],[iii]and 1 in 3 adults across the Asia Pacific area will develop shingles over their lifetime[iv]. However, in a global survey across multiple countries (N=2509), it was found that on average, only 7% of people over the age of 50 believe they are at risk of developing shingles in the next 10 years .[v].

The goal of Shingles Awareness Week is to increase understanding of the impact of shingles and to challenge common misconceptions surrounding the risk of developing shingles. In the global survey, the top three reasons individuals cited for their perceived risk of getting shingles, ranked in descending order, include:

Shingles is caused by reactivation of varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox, usually in childhood. Almost all adults aged 50 and over have dormant VZV in their sensory nervous system, which can reactivate with age[ii]. Shingles usually presents as an itchy rash with painful blisters on the chest, abdomen, and/or face. The pain associated with shingles is often intense and described as burning, throbbing or stabbing. After the rash subsides, some patients may experience postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)[vi]persistent neuropathic pain that can last several months or even years.

Another goal of Shingles Awareness Week 2022 is to encourage adults to talk to their doctor to learn more about appropriate early management and preventative steps they can take to reduce their risk of shingles.

Dr Carol Tan Yean Eng, Geriatrics Specialist, The Good Life Medical Center at Mount Alvernia Hospital said: “Vaccinating adults is essential, especially in countries with aging populations. There are many diseases preventable with vaccines, and shingles is one of them. It is a cause of a lot of pain, maybe debilitating and, in rare cases, Shingles vaccination for the elderly is important and has been in place for many years in other countries Prevention against shingles and other infectious diseases is a key part of healthy aging.

“It is also crucial to protect vulnerable patients with comorbidities or who are immunocompromised. Shingles Awareness Week will certainly help more people to be educated about the importance of the disease, as well as its preventive measures,” he said. she adds.

“We are thrilled to join forces with the International Federation on Aging to kick off this shingles awareness week,” said Doctor Stephanie AmbroiseCountry Medical Director, Singapore. “With this new initiative, we continue to show our commitment to supporting healthy aging for Singaporeans by educating them about this preventable and painful disease and enabling individuals to talk to their doctors about the disease.”

Jane M Barratt, Ph.D., IFA General Secretary, said: “As a global advocate for aging populations, we are thrilled to collaborate in this global effort to raise awareness of shingles and help adults understand the risks and complications associated with this painful disease.”

Additional general information

About Shingles Awareness Week

Shingles Awareness Week (February 28March 6) is the first-ever global awareness week dedicated to shingles and the increased risk of developing shingles in adults. Co-led by GSK and the International Federation on Aging, this week has been set up to encourage conversations between older people and their healthcare professionals about shingles, its management and the prevention efforts that can curb the rate of shingles. .

About Shingles

Shingles is caused by reactivation of the latent varicella virus (varicella zoster virus, VZV). The individual lifetime risk of developing shingles is about 1 in 3 people[ii]. The risk of shingles and its complications increases with age and is more common in people aged 50 and over. People with immunosuppressive diseases or therapies are also at increased risk.[vii].

Shingles usually presents as a painful, itchy rash that grows on one side of the body. Shingles complications can include:

  • Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN – persistent neuropathic pain, the most common complication occurring in up to 30% of shingles cases)[vi]

  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO – occurring in up to 25% of shingles cases)[ii] including vision loss, scarring, strokes, secondary infections and nerve palsies[viii], [ix].

Aagainst GSK

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with one purpose: to help people do more, feel better and live longer. For more information, please visit

The references

[i] Bricout H, et al. Mortality associated with herpes zoster in Europe: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2015;15:466. [Based on studies from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and England/ Wales].

[ii] Harpaz R, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Seward JF; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Shingles prevention: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recommend Rep. 2008 Jun;57(RR-5):1-30. [Based on recommendations in the United States of America].

[iii] Fatha N et al. Changing seroprevalence of varicella-zoster virus infection in a tropical city-state, Singapore. Int J Infect Dis. 2014;22:73–7. [Based on 2010 National Health Survey and a paediatric survey (2008 – 2010) conducted in Singapore].

[iv] Chen LK, Pinchinat S, et al., Looking back to move forward: a twenty-year audit of shingles in the Asia-Pacific. BMC Infectious Diseases, 2017; 17:213.

[v] Ipsos MORI, A5a. To what extent do you personally feel at risk – if any – of having shingles (again) in the following periods? Question asked on a 7-point scale. Base: Total (n=2509), Belgium (n=300), Netherlands (n=150), Sweden (n=150), Australia (n=300), United Kingdom *n=300), Hong Kong (n=108), Austria (n=300), Denmark (n=300), Finland (n=301), Germany (n=300). Last access: 22n/a December 2021.

[vi] Kawai K et al. Systematic review of the incidence and complications of shingles: towards a global perspective. BMJ Open 2014;4(6):e004833.

[vii] Yawn BP, Saddier P, Wollan PC, St Sauver JL, Kurland MJ, Sy LS. A population-based study of the incidence and complication rates of shingles before the introduction of the shingles vaccine. Mayo ClinProc. 2007;82(11):1341-9.

[viii] Tseng HF et al. J Infect Dis 2020;222:798-806.

[ix] Sreenivasan N et al. PLoS One 2013;8:e69156-e.



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