Are you hoping to get your shingles vaccine? If so, you may have a wait. The high demand for this vaccine has led to a shortage of it in some areas. You can still get this vaccine if you know where to look and how to ask for the immunization.
What Are the Shingles?
The shingles is an infection that occurs in people who have had chickenpox before. The virus that causes chickenpox, known as varicella, lays dormant in nerves long after people have the actual pox. When we are under stress or otherwise weakened, the virus can return again.
In most cases of shingles, there will be a distinctive rash that occurs along a dermatome, or the range of a single spinal nerve. Sufferers will develop a distinctive rash with blisters and reddened skin along the path of this nerve. They also have intense, burning pain because of the irritation of this nerve.
Shingles is incredibly painful due to its action on nerves. In addition, there is a risk of complications and death from this infection. People who get it once can get it over and over, without ever developing an immunity. Around one out of three Americans over the age of 50 will get this disease without the vaccination. As a result, many people are eager to get a vaccine that prevents them from developing this disease.
The Benefits of Shingrix
The Shingrix vaccine has been found to be one of the most effective ways to avoid getting shingles, particularly in people who have had chickenpox as a child. Before this vaccine became available, an estimated 4 million people every year suffer from this painful disorder.
Although we consider chickenpox and shingles to be routine illnesses, they can lead to some very serious sequelae. Around 13,000 people every year are hospitalized due to these infections. Another 150 people every year die from it. Although we once shrugged off chickenpox as children, the shingles can be debilitating and even deadly.
Modern children get vaccinated against varicella and thus will never get the disease. They will also be immune to shingles, as you need to get chickenpox in order to get shingles. However, older generations remain at risk. This is why the shingles vaccine is so popular right now.
The first shingles vaccine, Zostavax, was very effective. However, it was a live vaccine, which meant people who got it were being exposed to the chickenpox virus. People who had existing diseases or immune competency issues could not get it. Shingrix offers superior protection with a much lower risk of developing the actual disease.
More than 90% of people who get Shingrix will be completely immune to the shingles. This is an advantage that no other shingles vaccine can offer. This high effectiveness is the reason that this vaccine is so in demand. it simply works better than other options.
Where to Get the Shingles Vaccine
If you or a loved one are interested in getting the shingles vaccine, it is usually still available in some places. First, ask at your doctor’s office. Second, try asking at your local pharmacy. Many offices and pharmacies still have a stock of the vaccine.
Most places offering the vaccine are saving it for people who are over the age of 50 who also had chickenpox as children. This is the group most likely to benefit from the vaccine. If you are in this group, make sure your doctor and pharmacist are aware and that they know you want the disease.
Why Is There a Shortage of Shingrix?
Shingrix is selling out of many places for one simple reason: it works. Recent studies have found that Shingrix is more effective than other vaccines that claim to offer the same benefits. Shingrix has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as one of the most effective ways to prevent getting shingles.
Two doses of Shingrix are required in order to get full immunity from the shingles. The need for two doses is also contributing to the shortage. These two doses must be at least six months apart in order to get full immunity.
There is not yet a critical shortage of this vaccine, although many offices and pharmacies are running short on supplies. The maker of Shingrix, GlaxoSmithKline, recommends that people who need this vaccination get it as quickly as possible. Although the company is making the vaccine as quickly as their resources will allow, there remains a shortfall and an even greater projected shortfall in the future.
As both Baby Boomers and Generation X hit their golden years, vaccinations and treatments targeting elders will be in increased demand. It is important to get your medical care as soon as it is available so you don’t run into a shortage later.