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Shingles Vaccine Shortage

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A combination of factors has dissuaded many physicians’ offices and clinics from carrying Zostavax. And its manufacturer, Merck, has been unable to produce sufficient quantities to meet even modest demand.

  • The vaccine is made with a live attenuated virus that has proved difficult to grow in bulk, and also is needed to make the childhood chickenpox vaccine.
  • Zostavax is the most expensive adult vaccine, selling for about $160 a dose, not counting the cost of an office visit and injection. Few insurers will currently cover the cost for patients under age 60.
  • Because the vaccine must be stored frozen and few doctors’ offices are equipped with freezers, many patients must turn to pharmacies for the shot.

Intermittent shortages that last months have kept the company from consistently marketing the vaccine and have forestalled public health campaigns that could have built awareness of the need for it.

From Drive to Stem Shingles Meets Few Expectations by Paula Span, NYT. Please read the entire article.

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Written by tldegray

July 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm

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