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Shingles Vaccine Shortage Impacting Omaha

Published: Aug. 8, 2018

It’s good — so good that demand has been higher than its maker apparently anticipated.

As a result, supplies of the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, have been spotty nationwide. Reports indicate that some pharmacy chains have created waiting lists, particularly for customers who’ve gotten the first recommended dose of the vaccine and are seeking the second.

Pharmacists at two independent pharmacies in the Omaha area, however, say they’ve been able to draw on multiple suppliers to keep the vaccine in stock, at least for now.

Shingrix, approved last fall, now is the vaccine preferred by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for prevention not only of shingles but also of the severe nerve pain that can linger in its wake. Caused by a rekindling of the virus that causes chicken pox, shingles affects one in three adults in their lifetime, causing a painful rash and blisters. There are about a million cases in the United States each year. The new vaccine is recommended for people 50 and older.

Dr. Rudolf Kotula, an infectious disease physician with Methodist Physicians Clinic in Omaha, said the new vaccine remains very effective even as people age.

“Whether you are 50 or 90, the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective,” Kotula said. “It really protects the public from an occurrence or recurrence of shingles, which is very painful.”

Omaha World-Herald reporter Julie Anderson: New Shingles Vaccine Works So Well, Supplies Are Running Low