Illinois pharmacies bracing for shingles vaccination shortage

Illinois pharmacies bracing for shingles vaccination shortage

JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Pharmacies and health agencies not only across the nation are experiencing a shortage in the shingles vaccination called Shingrix, but also across southern Illinois.

According to the CDC a new and “preferred” shingles vaccine called Shingrix is in high demand, and organizations are trying to figure out how to cope with the shortage.

Clinical Service Manager Annette Greer with the Jackson County Health Department can relate to the national problem, “We got 20 doses of Shingrix about two weeks ago and now we just have ten dose left. that’s how popular it is," she said.

Currently, JCHD has ten doses and has already ordered more, but they, too, have experienced a shortage. “We had people calling every week. People walking in, wanting it, and we just felt really bad when we didn’t have it to give," Greer says.

Shingles is severe viral infection that can develop if you’ve ever had chicken pox. “It can be very debilitating. the pain is excruciating. People over 50 are more likely to have it than younger people. but it can occur at any age as long as they have the chicken pox virus in their system,” Greer says.

Shingrix hit the market in 2018. According to Ben Calcaterra, the Pharmacist-In-Charge at Logan Primary Pharmacy, it’s two-shot-series and then you’re done. There’s no annual boosters. Calcaterra says Shingrix is so effective, the manufactures can’t keep up with the demand.

“It has been proven to be over 90 percent effective against the shingles...which is far greater than our previous vaccination against the shingles....which was called Zostavax,” Calcaterra says.

According to the CDC, Zostavax, reduced the risk of shingles by 51%, where Shingrix was 97% effective in adults 50-69 years of age once they get both shots.

Greer agrees, the pharmaceutical company was not prepared for the uptick in demand, but she says she is still optimistic. “I just hope that the people who really need it, the 50 and older, are able to get it,” Greer concludes.

Calcaterra says they after the first of the year, they will have updates on getting the vaccination again. He suggests to follow up. “And I would just like people to know to keep checking. it is effective," Calcaterra says. "It is the best answer we have to protect against the shingles.”

You can call your local doctor or pharmacy to see if they have the vaccination or find the vaccine near you.

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