There’s a shortage of the shingles vaccine and it’s affecting the supply here on the Central Coast.
If you’re in need of the shingles vaccine, there’s a wait list at the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.
Health officials say the shortage has to do with a major increase in demand.
Nancy Hoyt of Morro Bay has lupus and this year, she was diagnosed with shingles not once, but twice.
“The shingles is very painful,” Hoyt explained. “It’s debilitating.”
If you’ve had the chickenpox, you can get shingles. The virus that causes chickenpox stays in your nervous system and can re-emerge, causing the shingles rash.
“It’s a searing nerve pain that doesn’t quit,” said Hoyt, who is still dealing with the after-effects months later.
After her first bout with shingles, she tried to get vaccinated.
“They said there’s a nationwide shortage,” she explained.
Hoyt got shingles again a few months later while trying to get vaccinated along with her boyfriend.
“So we’ve been trying for seven months to get vaccines. If there’s a vaccine out there, it should be available to everybody. Why do I have to go through shingles twice, in hopes I don’t get it a third time while waiting for a vaccine?” she said.
Dr. Penny Borenstein of San Luis Obispo County Public Health says since the vaccine, Shingrix, came out less than a year ago, there just hasn’t been enough in the pipeline.
“It’s now being recommended to people ages 50 and up whereas the other one was age 60 and up, so that expands the population,” Dr. Borenstein said.
Shingrix is considered to be more effective than the previous vaccine. It has a 90 percent effective rate.
More people have also had the shingles in recent years.
Dr. Borenstein says there’s no word on when enough of the vaccine will available.
“I’ve been doing it every couple of weeks, checking in and either I’ve maybe missed them maybe or maybe, they just never got it,” Hoyt concluded.
Health officials say one in three people will get shingles in their lifetime. That number is expected to drop in the years to come because more children are vaccinated against chickenpox.
KSBY reached out to the company that manufactures the shingles vaccine. A spokesperson sent us a statement that said in part:
Shingrix has been met with an unprecedented level of demand from patients and health care professionals. GSK has responded to this demand by significantly increasing and accelerating shipments of Shingrix this year.
More than 3 million doses have been administered in the US since launch through the end of June 2018; and we expect to vaccinate significantly more patients against shingles this year than were vaccinated in total in 2017.
We understand that this is a challenging situation to manage and GSK is fully committed to expediting Shingrix resupply throughout 2018.
We are shipping large volumes of Shingrix every three weeks and expect that schedule to continue for the remainder of the year.