MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Pharmacies across the nation are dealing with a shortage of the new shingles vaccine called Shingrix. Pharmacies began offering Shingrix around early spring this year. By May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already reported shortages.
Anyone who has had chicken pox might develop shingles. Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is a painful and blistery flare-up. Shingrix requires two doses within six months in order for it to take full effect. The manufacturer claims it’s up to 90 percent effective. Experts believe the demand is surging because federal health officials have recommended the vaccine to adults over the age of 50.
The CDC says it anticipates limited orders and shipping delays of Shingrix could last through the end of the year. Pharmacists say the complications associated with the shingles virus can be debilitating.
“It can affect your eye sight, it can affect your hearing, so it’s best to get the vaccine as a preventative measure so you don’t have to deal with all the side effects. And because of that and because it’s more effective of course, people have been looking for the vaccine at local pharmacies,” said Robert Gajewski, Conway Medial Center pharmacy director.
The shortage has affected so many that some people are even taking to social media, saying all they want for Christmas this year is the Shingrix vaccine. Officials say the vaccine is made in the U.S. and Europe and it takes between six and nine months to be produced and put on the market.
Local pharmacies in Horry County say they’ve been dealing with the shortage for months now. Surfside Beach Pharmacy says their last shipment of Shingrix was in July and they get a few people a week asking to see if it’s in stock.
This nationwide shortage leaves many patients who’ve already received their first dose of shots concerned the delay in the second dose will make the vaccine less effective. However, health officials are encouraging people not to worry. They say it’s okay to receive the second dose at a later time.
The CDC says nearly one in three Americans will get shingles in their lifetime. It’s triggered by the same chickenpox virus and can cause severe nerve pain, rashes and blisters.
“Most of us have had chicken pox when we were children. Apparently, the virus remains within our body for many, many years. It’s what we call a latent virus. It just sits out there and for a number of different reasons. When we get older, the virus has a tendency to reemerge, and this time when it remerges as opposed to a generalized rash throughout our whole body, it’s now generally following a nerve path. And that nerve path is sometimes through the mid-torso, oftentimes through the neck and the jaw and along the side of your face, through your ear and upwards towards your eyes,” said Gajewski.
The manufacturer of Shingrix announced this week in response to the shortage, they plan to boost deliveries. As for now, people are urged to contact your healthcare providers or pharmacies directly for the most up-to-date availability.