Impact of the Shingrix Shortage

Jenna Gullickson, Pharm.D., CentraCare Health-St. Cloud

Shortage of the newest shingles vaccine, Shingrix®, has been a recent highlight in the news and continues to impact patients, clinics, and pharmacies nationwide. A representative of the manufacturer of the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline, reported the shortage was not due to any problems in the manufacturing process, but in the high demand for the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that patients ages 50 and older should receive the new vaccine, regardless of prior Zostavax® vaccination status. The vaccine is recommended as a two-dose series with the second dose scheduled two to six months following the first injection. However, when a shortage prevents this, many questions and concerns arise from patients and providers on how to navigate this situation.

Vaccine shortages impact pharmacy practice in various ways. The shortage of the Shingrix® vaccine has created concern related to efficacy in patients who do not receive the second dose within the recommended six month window. According to the CDC, if 6 months pass after receiving the first dose of the Shingrix®  vaccine, the series doesn’t need to be restarted. However, the second dose should still be administered as soon as possible because both doses are required for the greater than 90% immunity. In our role as pharmacists, we can provide patients with education related to the vaccine, and encourage patients to contact their pharmacy or clinic to inquire about vaccine prior to arrival for vaccine administration. Additionally, we can manage and discuss processes that facilities may have in place to combat the shortage, such as creating patient call lists or prioritizing patients in need of their second dose. Pharmacists are well positioned to answer questions from both patients and providers during vaccine shortages.

References:

  1. Cimons M. Health and science. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/dont-panic-if-you.... Published July 29, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2018.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines and preventable diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/hcp/shingrix/recommendations.html. Updated September 17, 2018. Accessed November 19, 2018.