In October 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine, Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline), and shortly thereafter the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) altered its recommendations making this new product preferred over the previously approved vaccine, Zostavax (Merck). The new vaccine, Shingrix, is approved for use in healthy adults 50 years and older, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated with Zostavax in the past. Patients are required to receive two doses of Shingrix, 2 to 6 months apart.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer has been unable to keep pace with demand for the new vaccine and a shortage exists today limiting access to the new product. As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere, limited supplies are creating challenges for patients who wish to receive the new product. The FDA has included Shingrix on their list of products in short supply, and access issues are expected to continue throughout the year.
In the meantime, healthy adult patients 60 years of age and older can continue to receive Zostavax, particularly if immediate vaccination is needed or if a patient is allergic to Shingrix or its components.
Additional information about Zoster Vaccine can be found in the Top 300 Pharmacy Drug Cards. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to the Top 300 Pharmacy Drug Cards. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.
For More Information
FDA update on vaccine availability:
CDC information on zoster vaccine:
Philadelphia Inquirer report on shortage: