‘Unprecedented’ demand for shingles vaccine leads to shortage | TribLIVE.com

‘Unprecedented’ demand for shingles vaccine leads to shortage

Nicole C. Brambila

High demand for the shingles vaccine means Pennsylvanians wanting to protect themselves against the painful, blister-causing virus might have to wait.

“The demand has been unprecedented,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease physician. “We want to have demand like this for every vaccine.”

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who’s had chickenpox may develop shingles, which causes a stripe of blisters on the torso.

Of the two vaccines on the market, Shingrix, which was approved in 2017, is deemed most protective. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK, it is a two-dose series recommended for people 50 and above. The other vaccine, produced by Merck, is recommended for those aged 60 and older.

With a shingles vaccine now recommended for a greater number of Americans, more, apparently, are looking for protection against the virus, Adalja said.

Roughly one in three Americans will develop shingles their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 1 million people get shingles every year. About 1% to 4% of those who get shingles are hospitalized for complications. In the months after contracting shingles, patients are at a greater risk for heart attack and stroke.

“It is difficult to quantify the shortage, or how long people will have to wait,” said Nate Wardle, a Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesman. “For some, there may not be any wait at all.”

Consumer Reports reported earlier this year that GlaxoSmithKline delivered 8.3 million doses of Shingrix in 2018.

Sean Clements, a GSK spokesman, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The health department recommends that people use the online vaccine locator — see Shingrix.com — or call their family doctor or pharmacy to see if the vaccine is in stock.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.