Shingles vaccine stocks may run out, officials warn

Disruption to the shingles vaccination campaign is expected to continue into next month as delays to supplies threaten to exhaust UK stocks of the vaccine.

Practices face delays acquiring Zostavax, which can protect elderly people against the herpes varicella-zoster virus (pictured)
Practices face delays acquiring Zostavax, which can protect elderly people against the herpes varicella-zoster virus (pictured)

Public Health England said restrictions on orders would remain and warned it was likely that central stocks would run out.

Orders of Zostavax were capped at five doses last month after delays to the supply of vaccine to the UK. It came just two weeks after the launch of a new national programme to vaccinate 70- and 79-year-olds.

In an update, Public Health England said vaccine supplies from manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur MSD 'remain subject to a temporary delay' but that normal supplies are expected to resume in November.

A spokesman for the manufacturer confirmed that it expects supplies to return to normal next month.

Public Health England's vaccine update said: 'During this time, a restriction on the quantity of vaccine that can be ordered will remain in place while the vaccine is in stock. It is likely that there will be periods of no stock.'

The organisation repeated that it does not expect the temporary supply delays to affect the overall programme.

But when the delays were first announced, RCGP immunisation lead Dr George Kassianos said a shortage of doses would hit surgeries' vaccination clinics.

Sanofi Pasteur MSD is running tests on the vaccine before it can be distributed in the EU, but this has taken longer than anticipated.

GPs and practice staff should check the ImmForm website for the latest on vaccine availability.

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