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Local pharmacies feel the effect of nationwide shingles vaccine shortage

It's a nationwide shortage that's hitting Central New York hard. The shingles vaccination supply has been decreasing due to the recent high demand of the relatively new vaccine Shingtrix.

Posted: Dec. 5, 2018 11:39 PM

It's a nationwide shortage that's hitting Central New York hard. The shingles vaccination supply has been decreasing due to the recent high demand of the relatively new vaccine Shingtrix.

Shingtrix is said to be more effective than previous shingles vaccines.

“Everybody who’s turning 50 or 60 who wants this shingles shot to begin with is coming in now,” Pharmacist Vincent Chiffy said. “All those patients who were vaccinated with the original Zostavax are also coming in, and I think that’s why the demand is so high that they just can’t keep up with it.”

The shingles vaccination is out of stock at many pharmacies, leaving many people waiting for their next dose.

Parkway Drugs started giving patients the vaccine for the first time in September, but ran out of the vaccine on Monday. Chiffy says the vaccine could be in by the end of December, or early 2019.

The CDC recommends that people who have had the chicken pox and are over the age of 50 get vaccinated.

“It’s the chickenpox virus so once you have the chickenpox when you’re younger, it goes dormant, the actual virus, and it actually settles into the nerve endings in your body,” Chiffy said. “So that’s why when it comes back out as shingles, when you’re older, it’s so painful because that virus is still in you and it’s in your nerve endings.”

The shingles vaccination has to be taken in two doses, months apart, which could be an urgent matter for people looking to get their second dose of the vaccine.

“The first dose brings the antigen levels up, which is your immune system response, so you don’t get the shingles,” said Chiffy. “The second dose is needed to bring the antigen levels up to where they are needed to be. So, it’s really important that they get the second dose.”

Many pharmacies are waiting for the vaccination, some from the same supplier.

“We don’t really feel we are competing against each other,” said Chiffy. “We more or less feel like we have to get people a vaccination. We don’t care if they go to Walmart, or Rite Aid, or [Parkway Drugs]. The important thing is that everybody gets vaccinated.”

The shingles vaccine does not require a prescription.

The maker of the vaccine, GSK, says starting this month they are increasing the supply of the vaccine and will ship out a larger amount as well.

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