Can Shingrix Raise Senior Shingles Awareness?

GSK's Shingrix vaccine for shingles herpes zoster is available at most pharmacies

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A new survey found 38 percent of Americans are aware that there is a shingles vaccine.

Which is good news, since the new vaccine Shingrix is now nearly twice as effective as the previous protocol in preventing shingles, also known as herpes zoster.

Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. There are an estimated 1 million shingles cases each year in the USA.

Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles; even children can get shingles, according to osteopathic physicians.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity to nearly eliminate shingles among our patient population, as well as the possibility of chronic pain or even blindness that can accompany the condition," says Judith Lightfoot, DO, an infectious disease specialist at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.

"It's a prevention conversation I'm having with nearly every patient over fifty."

This survey was conducted by The Harris Poll in June 2018. 

But, is there enough Shingrix inventory available to meet this pent-up demand?

According to previous reporting on May 2, 2018, GSK, the manufacturer of Shingrix, forecasted supply issues for the balance of 2018. 

The good news is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their vaccine shortage page on June 8, 2018, with this Note:

Due to high levels of demand for GSK’s Shingrix vaccine, GSK has implemented order limits and providers have experienced shipping delays. It is anticipated these order limits and shipping delays will continue throughout 2018. In response, GSK has increased the US supply available for 2018 and plans to release doses to all customer types on a consistent and predictable schedule for the rest of 2018. Overall, the supply of Shingrix during 2018 is sufficient to support the vaccination of more patients during 2018 than were vaccinated against shingles during 2017.

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"Vaccinations prime the immune system for an attack, so you are ready to repel an infection or flare-up," says Dr. Lightfoot.

Unlike many vaccines made from a weakened form of a virus, Shingrix is made from just a single protein known as glycoprotein E, that comes from the outer shell of the herpes zoster virus.

Shingrix is the first shingles vaccine to combine a non-live antigen with a specifically designed adjuvant, which is a substance that helps your body better respond to the vaccine.

"Offering up to date vaccine recommendations to patients is one of the advantages we enjoy as community pharmacists,” said Soni Bozeman, Pharm.D., Clinical Pharmacist, Brookshires Grocery Company.

“Pharmacists are prepared to offer Shingrix to a broader patient population as a superior protection against debilitating shingles outbreaks," says Bozeman.

To schedule a vaccination appointment at a pharmacy, please visit this page.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides current vaccine information. 

Vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 137,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs, and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools.