Earlier this year, the public could start using a new vaccine to prevent shingles.
But it may be hard to find Shingrix. A shortage is impacting pharmacies and clinics all across the country, including right here in KELOLAND.
Adults 50 years and older who are in need of Shingrix may have to sit tight.
“I called my clinic and they said well, it’s not available right now. We’ll put you on the list,” Bryan Bjerke said.
Bjerke has been waiting for months.
“They showed me a clipboard full of, this thick, people on the list and they said it’s going to be awhile yet. So, at this point, I don’t know when I will get the vaccine,” Bjerke said.
Avera Health’s Clinical Director of Pharmacy Glenn Voss says those who received Zostavax are still urged to get Shingrix, as your risk for developing the virus rises with age.
“When you’re 50 to 59 is somewhere around 5 in 1,000. That estimates to about 15 in 1,000 as you age towards 70 or 80,” Voss said.
The shingles virus is a painful rash of blisters, lasting around 2 to 4 weeks.
“I had a member of my family, an uncle who suffered very badly with shingles. So, I know what it can do and it’s not pleasant. So I don’t want to get it, there’s no guarantee that I won’t anyway,” Bjerke said.
In July the CDC announced the high demand for the vaccine, and because of that the maker of Shingrix, GlasxoSmithKline put order limits in place.
“The company that prepares the product is suggest that they will have some resolution to this by 2019, but certainly it will last throughout this calendar year,” Voss said.
Treating those who are most at risk is their current priority as pharmacies wait for more shipments to come in.
The vaccine is distributed in two doses. The second dose should be received between two and six months after the first dose. The CDC says if it’s past that mark, the second dose should be given as soon as possible.
“If the demand is huge, why hasn’t the supply responded? I don’t know,” Bjerke said.
Voss says the health care system has looked to the American Council of Immunization Practices as well as the CDC, having no success.
“Part of at least my concern, that we haven’t really established a methodology for really mitigating the components of a shortage with this particular medication” Voss said.
Voss says if you need the vaccine start making calls.
“Best thing is to make sure you know you’re on a list somewhere. Or that the pharmacy you get it for actually establishes a second dose list, because it is a 2 dose vaccine,” Voss said.
Hy-Vee pharmacy, where Bjerke attempted to receive his vaccine has declined to comment on the situation.