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Shingles vaccine shortage hits UK

by Lalah-Simone Springer
16 September 2013

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Orders of the shingles vaccine – Zostavax – have been capped due to a supply problem, the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) has said. 

Practice managers and other responsible healthcare professionals will only be able to get five doses per order. 

Despite the delays, the JCVI has warned against stockpiling the vaccine because it is expensive and “wastage must be minimised”, with any excess vaccine redistributed.  

According to the latest JCVI vaccine update, the shingles vaccine should only be ordered for 70 and 79 year olds this year. 

The vaccine update states: “This situation will remain fluid and the order quantity may vary until supply can be resumed fully, which is unlikely to be before October.” 

However, the committee said that there should be enough vaccine to continue the shingles vaccination programme as planned. 

“A large quantity of vaccine has already been distributed throughout the UK to start the programme. We do not expect this temporary supply issue to affect the overall programme,” the letter said. 

An estimated 30,000 cases of shingles occur in people aged between 70 and 79 in England and Wales each year. 

Local services should aim to immunise all people in their area aged either 70  or 79 on 1 September 2013, according to the most recent guidance.