What shingles vaccination trends can tell us about COVID-19 immunization

A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis explores the potential challenges associated with multidose COVID-19 vaccines by examining past immunization trends for Shingrix, a shingles vaccine for people 50 and older that also requires two doses. The vaccine requires patients to receive a second dose within two to six months after the first.

To assess how many patients received their second dose within this time frame, Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed prescription drug claims data for 80,000 Medicare patients who received their first Shingrix dose between January and June of 2018. 

Three findings:

1. About 74 percent of Medicare patients received their second dose within six months.

2. Follow-up rates were lower for people of color, those under 65 with long-term disabilities and low-income patients.

3. Seventy-six percent of white patients received the second dose within six months, compared to 61 percent of Black patients and 58 percent of Hispanic patients. 

These findings underscore the challenge of vaccinating vulnerable populations against COVID-19, the researchers said. One bright side: Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines both require a second dose just a month after the first, which could help eliminate some of the drop-off seen in follow-up vaccinations for Shingrix, the researchers said. 

To view the full analysis, click here.

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