Shingles Awareness Week 2024
As individuals age, the waning of their immune system can prevent a robust immune-response to the dormant varicella zoster virus (better known as chickenpox), allowing for the reactivation of the virus in later years and resulting in the vaccine preventable disease known as herpes zoster or shingles.¹ Older adults are at the greatest risk of shingles, with the highest burden in those aged 50 years and over and with potential negative health outcomes including bacterial skin infections, postherpetic neuralgia, and even hearing and vision complications.² To improve understanding of the risks and complications associated with shingles as well as preventative actions such as vaccination, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) is actively engaging in Shingles Awareness Week (SAW) 2024.
Held from 26 February to 3 March 2024, Shingles Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of shingles as a vaccine preventable disease and foster increased knowledge and action. The most effective action against shingles is vaccination, yet vaccine uptake rates remain suboptimal, at best. Among individuals over 50 years of age, only 27% reported having the vaccine in adulthood, with the most frequent reasons for non-vaccination according to the Public Health Agency of Canada being a lack of awareness and/or perceiving that the vaccines are not necessary.³ With healthcare systems under pressure, there is an urgent need to raise awareness of shingles as preventable, to understand the consequence of the disease, and most importantly, to encourage those concerned about shingles risks to speak to their healthcare provider about vaccination.
To mark Shingles Awareness Week the IFA will be hosting several events both during SAW and in the lead up to the week. See below for opportunities to engage in SAW and contact Policy and Project Coordinator Cera Cruise ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) should you have any questions.
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Shingles Awareness Week 2024 Civil Society Organization (CSO) Support Session
In an effort to support and encourage organizations invested in the health and well-being of older adults and those most at risk for shingles the IFA will be hosting a virtual support session on 6 February at 12.00pm EST. The purpose of this session is to bring together CSOs who are interested in engaging in SAW to better understand planned activities, synergistic opportunities and identify resources and supports to help foster increased engagement and amplify impact across Shingles Awareness Week 2024! Participating CSOs will also have the opportunity to inform the development of adaptable SAW resources which will be developed by IFA and shared with participating organization for further dissemination!