Shingles Vaccine Shingrix May Soon Increase Supply

GSK announces $100 million vaccine production facility investment

senior citizen happy and smiling

The new shingles vaccine Shingrix has performed so well since its launch in 2018 that the manufacturer GSK ran into production constraints. 

Most seniors seeking to schedule a Shingrix vaccination appointment at a local pharmacy are asked to enroll in a ‘sign-up’ list, without knowing when the innovative shingles vaccine will become available. 

In response to market imbalance, GSK has pledged to boost its production capacity, saying it will invest $100 million in its Montana facility, reported the AP. 

GSK’s Hamilton, Montana facility currently produces components used in several vaccines, such as malaria. 

Shingrix is a vaccine indicated for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in adults aged 50+, and is not indicated for the prevention of primary varicella infection (chickenpox), says GSK. 

This target population for Shingrix is 115 million adults. 

The consumer demand for Shingrix is enhanced by very positive research. 

On February 19, 2019, a new study reported the recombinant zoster vaccine Shingrix delivered higher cost-effectiveness and prevention of herpes zoster when compared with the live zoster vaccine Zostavax or no vaccination. 

These researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School found that Shingrix was cost-effective compared with Zostavax under a wide range of conditions and yielded greater projected health benefits at lower costs under most conditions. 

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This study is important since herpes zoster causes significant illness and health care costs, especially among those who develop Postherpetic Neuralgia. 

Separately, a report published by the CDC on January 31, 2019, said ‘Healthcare providers and patients can be reassured by the recombinant zoster vaccine Shingrix’s initial post-licensure safety data.’ 

This analysis was based on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. VAERS is a national passive surveillance system for adverse events after administration of U.S.-licensed vaccines and is co-administered by the CDC and FDA. 

During the first 8 months of use, when approximately 3.2 million Shingrix doses were distributed, the VAERS received a total of 4,381 reports of adverse events. 

Only 130 (3.0%) of which were classified as serious.

While both consumers and pharmacies wait for GSK to improve their inventory situation, the CDC prepared several FAQs related to Shingrix, which can be found here.  

Relevant Links: CDC vaccination schedules, CDC vaccine price list, international travel alerts, and report vaccine side effects.