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GPs able to order more shingles vaccines after supply issue is resolved

GP practices are once again able to resume the national programme to vaccinate older people against shingles as central supplies have been restored - but are still limited to 20 doses per order.

Public Health England has announced that central supplies of the Zostavax vaccine are now available, after more than a month.

Supplies of the vaccine had been intermittently running out ever since the new national programme to vaccinate people aged 70 and over against shingles – starting with 70- and 79-year-olds this year – began in September.

The problem has been attributed to delays in the manufacturing process owing to ‘testing taking longer than anticipated’.

The latest interruption in supply began at the end of October, at which point Public Health England said the delays should not affect the programme as a whole this year.

But GP leaders warned the programme could ‘go off the boil’ because of difficulties getting hold of the vaccine and doubts about cost-effectiveness.

The ImmForm website confirms the Zostavax vaccine is available to order in England, Scotland and Wales but practices are restricted to 20 doses per order in England, while in Scotland and Wales they have to consult local Health Protection teams on how many doses they can order.

A spokesman for the manufacturer said: ‘Sanofi Pasteur MSD is pleased to confirm that deliveries of Zostavax shingles vaccine have been made recently, so that shingles vaccination can recommence in GP surgeries.

‘Production of shingles vaccine is on-going and doses committed for year one of the National Shingles Immunisation Programme will be delivered.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • Vinci Ho

    The whole design of the programme is doomed from the beginning and it is not surprising people , clinicians and non clinicians , have major doubts about the effectiveness .
    Vaccinating only 70 and 79 years old definitively generates all kinds of question from patients especially when the husband was vaccinated while his wife was not.
    Exactly why has the delay of supply happened? Typically nobody from pharmaceutical company(s) will be punished .......

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  • Vinci, I am sure that the problems in this case are more due to the lack of thought from the government organisations.
    How much notice did they give the company that they will now be needing thousands of times more vaccine than they needed previously? Previous to the change in guidance we used a relatively small amount in the UK.

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  • This actually reminds me a little of the NICE guidance for hypertension where they recommended Chlortalidone 25mg...a product that doesn't exist. Then didn't seem to inform the only manufacturer of the only other product (50mg) and now that isn't available at all.

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  • Was there any debate about spending large amounts of NHS money on the shingles vaccine? Is it really £100 a pop?

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