Shingles vaccine shortage worsens

Despite efforts by its manufacturer to ramp up deliveries and production, the national shortage of Shingrix, a new vaccine to protect against shingles, is worsening, according to The Washington Post.

Demand for GlaxoSmithKline's two-dose Shingrix vaccine skyrocketed this spring after it was found to be more effective than the older single-shot vaccine. In addition, demand increased sharply last year after federal regulators recommended all healthy adults receive the vaccine at age 50.

As a result, GSK officials now estimate about 115 million people in the U.S. are eligible for the vaccine — a number they did not initially anticipate.

Consumers have been struggling to find Shingrix doses at pharmacies across the U.S. In one instance, a Pennsylvania man said his wife was told by her local supermarket pharmacy that time on the waiting list to get the Shingrix vaccine was about 12 months. In a separate instance, a CVS pharmacist told the Post that their location hadn't received a shipment since August.

"It's worse now," an unnamed pharmacist at Walgreens told the Post. The pharmacy is not keeping a waiting list because "there's no promise of when it's going to come out again."

To help combat the worsening shortage, GSK said it has increased supply of Singrix in the U.S., shipping large volumes every two to three weeks. Beginning in December, the company said it's moving to a twice-monthly schedule.

GSK makes Shingrix at its facility in Belgium, which is already at capacity, according to a GSK spokesperson. The company said it is struggling to meet demand, but plans to bring more doses to the U.S. next year.

Read the full report here.

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