Shingles Vaccine Is So Effective, There’s Now a Shortage

Shingles Vaccine Is So Effective, There’s Now a Shortage

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that there will soon be a shortage of the shingles vaccine because of the high demand. The WHO says it could take up to two years before enough are produced to meet all the needs. The situation is so bad that some countries have already stopped issuing new visas for foreign workers.

According to the WHO, the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. That means there will be 1.2 billion people over 65 years old at risk of getting shingles each year.

People with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to shingles, which causes painful headaches and other symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain or weakness, fever and body aches. Some people may even experience hallucinations or delusions after they recover from the disease.

There are currently no effective treatments for shingles. Doctors recommend that people over age 50 get vaccinated against the infection if they haven’t been yet. If you’re under age 50, your doctor may suggest that you get vaccinated anyway since older adults tend to develop severe complications much faster than younger patients.

How Does Shingles Vaccine Work?

The vaccine does contain a live virus, but it’s a weakened form of the virus that causes shingles. The vaccine helps your body develop antibodies to attack the virus before you actually get the disease. The vaccine cannot give you the infection since it is not a complete, working virus.

Shingles Vaccine and Side-Effects

On August 18, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Shingrix to help prevent shingles in adults age 50 and over.

The vaccine is more than 90 percent effective at preventing the disease. (The regular vaccine only prevented shingles in about 50 percent of people who got it.)

Shingles Vaccine Cost

Shingles vaccine is covered by most private health insurance plans, but some pharmacy chains offer it at a lower price than others. The vaccine is not free, but costs only about $200. That is less than half of what it would cost if you had to pay out of pocket.

Sources & references used in this article:

Vaccine shortages: history, impact, and prospects for the future by AR Hinman, WA Orenstein, JM Santoli… – Annu. Rev. Public …, 2006 –

Discussing the zoster vaccine: an interview with Julie Gerberding, president of Merck vaccines by J Gerberding, BP Yawn – Population health management, 2012 –

Monitoring interest in herpes zoster vaccination: analysis of Google search data by EJ Berlinberg, MS Deiner, TC Porco… – JMIR Public Health …, 2018 –

Perspectives and concerns regarding antimicrobial agent shortages among infectious disease specialists by AV Gundlapalli, SE Beekmann, DR Graham… – … and infectious disease, 2013 – Elsevier