ATLANTA — A nationwide rush for people over 50 to get a new vaccine -- Shingrix -- has led to a shortage of the vaccine.
The new vaccine, reported more than 90 percent effective against Shingles, is promising a significant protection against the debilitating effects of the illness.
Its maker, GlaxoSmithKline told 11Alive that nationally more than 3 million doses were gobbled up almost immediately.
Although demand is overwhelming supply, doctors, pharmacies and the CDC all recommend patience. They all agree that it is important to complete the series and get both shots within the 2-to-6 month recommended period.
But the issue now centers on people who got that first shot, but cannot find the vaccine to get the second one.
The drug company said large quantities are being delivered every two to three weeks, but many metro Atlanta pharmacies are still waiting,
“We have been without the vaccine for probably 3.5 months, and we know we will have it in June. There is a chance we can have it sometime in November, but we will have to wait and see,” said Melanie Germany, Chief Pharmacist at Wender & Roberts Pharmacy in Atlanta.
The CDC is urging people to get on priority lists for the second shot, but they should be patient and check vaccine availability in metro Atlanta at www.vaccinefinder.org.
“In small studies where they gave the vaccine 12 months after receiving the first dose, the immune response to the vaccine was still very robust, but there was more individual variation in how people responded,” said Dr. Kathleen Dooling in the CDC Division of Viral Diseases.
But doctors agree that completing the two-shot series -- even with a wait -- is important.
“I’ve been advising patients to go ahead and try and get the vaccine if they can within the six-month time... if there is a little bit of a delay we might have to do that. But we don’t know exactly how much that will affect the effectiveness of the vaccine itself,” said Dr. Sundus Lodhi, an Atlanta Physician.
But the wait can be frustrating.
“No, we don’t have it available and we are not sure when it is coming in. It could be a number of months, and I am genuinely concerned, where is the second shot,” said Charles Richardson, eagerly awaiting his second Shingles shot and getting nowhere checking pharmacies both in Atlanta and Florida for a supply of the vaccine.
Even with a wait, there is good news from the CDC: “You don’t have to restart the series. Two shots are enough,” said Dr. Dooling.
The key is complete the 2-shot series.
Finding the Vaccine in Metro Atlanta, go to: www.vaccinefinder.org