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Shingles vaccine supplies to resume next month

30 October 2013

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Public Health England (PHE) believes normal supplies of Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, will be restored in November or December. 

Zostavax had been removed from the ImmForm website earlier in October because practices had been “multiple ordering” the vaccine. 

But according to the latest Shingles Vaccine Update, the delay was actually caused by “rigorous testing” which must be done before the vaccines can be used in the UK. 

The update also emphasises the reasons for immunising just 70 and 79 year-olds. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation believe the optimal age to routinely offer protection is at 70 years of age, with a phased catch up for 71-79 year-olds. 

But as this is a large age group, the catch-up must be staggered. The update states: “Those who are aged 79 years on 1 September 2013 are being prioritised this year as they will no longer be in the target age group next year.” 

Bruce Taylor, head of vaccines and countermeasures response at PHE, said: “Although we are disappointed with the delay of the shingles vaccine arriving in the UK as planned, PHE is working with the manufacturer to agree remedial action and resume supplies as quickly as possible.

“A large quantity of vaccine has already been distributed across the UK to start the programme which began on 1 September.

“We do not expect this temporary delay to impact the overall programme to immunise 70 and 79 year olds. The vaccine can be administered to the 2 eligible cohorts at any time between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.” 

A shingles Q&A for healthcare professionals has also been released by PHE.