Shingles is a painful rash. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Shortage of vaccine impacting Clark County residents

A new shingles vaccine remains in limited supply in Springfield and the surrounding area.

The local county health department is in short supply of the vaccine, Clark County Combined Health District Spokeswoman Emma Smales said.

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“We are currently experiencing a shortage of Shingrix, the shingles vaccine,” she said. “From what we understand, the manufacturer did not expect the level of demand that we are experiencing and so not enough of the vaccine was made. We are currently getting 10 doses every 2 months which allows us to vaccinate five people (two doses per person).”

About one in three people will get shingles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles and there are an estimated 1 million cases each year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Shingles is a painful rash and the CDC says some people develop a complication where they have long-lasting pain, perhaps for months.

The risk of developing shingles gets larger as a person gets older, the CDC says.

There are two vaccines recommended to prevent shingles. The Zostavax vaccine has been around since 2006, but then a new vaccine, Shingrix, was approved in 2017.

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Shingrix is now the preferred vaccine because it is much more effective — 97 percent effective in healthy adults 50 to 69 years old and 91 percent for those 70 and older. Zostavax was a little over 50 percent effective and recommended for those 60 and older.

When Shingrix was approved, there was much more patient demand than there ever was for Zostavax. As of 2016, about a third of adults 60 and older had the shingles vaccine, despite public health officials efforts to raise vaccination rates. Data from 2018 isn’t available yet to show interest in Shingrix, but pharmacists and doctors say demand increased.

Smales said the health district isn’t the only place where someone can get the vaccine. Virtually all pharmacies in the area sell them, Smales said, but there is usually a waiting list at those pharmacies too.

The CDC says high levels of demand led to order limits by the vaccine manufacturer GSK and shipping delays, which are anticipated to continue throughout 2019.

Jason Briscoe, director of pharmacy operations with Drug Mart, said they have been keeping two waiting lists, one for those interested in the first dose and for those who have the first dose and are waiting on the second.

Briscoe said patients should be actively engaged with their health care provider to see if the vaccine is right for them.

CVS said in a statement that it is getting shipments regularly and is prioritizing patients that need their second dose. Patients can call one of their stores to be added to a Shingrix request list.

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