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Local pharmacies feeling national shingles vaccine shortage

Posted: 4:22 PM, Dec 12, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-12 19:29:34-05

 

Studies show a new shingles vaccine is nearly twice as effective as its predecessor.

So why is it so hard to find?

“It’s not something they can just produce off the shelf,” said Dr. Justin Hensley, president of the Nueces County Medical Society.  “You do require a long, lengthy process to create the vaccine, just like the flu vaccine.”

Shingrix was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2017.  In January, the Centers for Disease Control recommended the vaccine for adults 50 and older, especially if they had chicken pox as a child.

“That virus lives dormant in the nerve cells in your body.  At some point later in life, it reactivates,” said Hensley.

Since its release, Shingrix supplies haven’t kept up with demand.

Because Singrix has been so effective, local pharmacies can’t keep the vaccine in stock, if they can get it at all. That includes national chains like Walgreens and CVS.

In a statement, CVS tells KRIS 6 News:

“Due to high demand for this new and highly-effective vaccine, it has become challenging to keep an ample supply across all of our more than 9,800 stores and more than 1,100 clinics due to supply restrictions from the manufacturer. We are still getting shipments intermittently.”

Hensley points to the fact patients need two doses of Shingrix within two to six months as another reason for the shortage.

“People are gettting the first dose, then they’re up against the time wall for the second dose,” said Hensley.  “If they don’t get it, they may have to start over and get two more doses.”

Shingrix treatments are covered by most insurance companies, but only for patients age 50 and older.