Amid Shortage Concerns at Pharmacies, Manufacturer Is Increasing Shipments of Shingles Vaccine

December 7, 2018

Shingrix is in short supply due to high demand, so the maker is upping the supply.

After seeing what it called an unprecedented demand by healthcare providers, pharmacists, and patients for Shingrix, the manufacturer is increasing its shipments of the vaccine.

"Responding to this demand, we have increased and accelerated supply of Shingrix in the U.S.," Sean Clements, a spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, says in a statement to Drug Topics. "We have been regularly shipping large volumes of vaccine every two to three weeks. Another large shipment was distributed this week."

 “Providers are immunizing patients at a rate several times what was previously seen for shingles," Clements says. He adds, that beginning in December, the company plans to move to a twice-monthly shipping schedule.

From the launch of Shingrix in 2017 until the end of September 2018, the company estimates that nearly 7 million doses have been administered globally, with the vast majority of that being administered in the United States.

Clements said GSK plans to distribute significantly more doses to the United States in 2019 compared to 2018 in an effort to continue to meet the need. "Over the next two to three years, we plan to build our capacity to supply doses in the high teens of millions annually," he said.

The announcement comes after pharmacies across the nation reported experiencing shortages of the vaccine. "We're hearing that some pharmacies have a wait list of up to 100 people," John Vinson, chief executive officer of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association told Arkansas news station KATV.

Anne Pace, a pharmacist with Kavanaugh Pharmacy told the station the pharmacy had even ordered some of the vaccine directly from the manufacturer.

"We have been working really hard to make sure that, when we saw it from our wholesaler, that we are jumping to make sure that we can get as much as we can possibly get," she said.

Pharmacists in New York are also reporting shortages.

“Everybody who’s turning 50 or 60 who wants this shingles shot to begin with is coming in now,” Pharmacist Vincent Chiffy told Utica, NY, station WKTV. “All those patients who were vaccinated with the original Zostavax are also coming in, and I think that’s why the demand is so high that they just can’t keep up with it.” Chiffy says he ran out of Shingrix in early December and anticipated getting another shipment in by the end of December or in early 2019.

Patients can use the Shingrix Vaccine Finder on the company's website at Shingrix.com to identify providers or pharmacies that offer the vaccine. Given the high demand, Clements recommends patients call pharmacies that offer the vaccine before they arrive to make sure the vaccine is available.

"We understand that this is a challenging situation to manage and GSK is fully committed to expediting SHINGRIX resupply throughout 2018," he said.