By: Emma Russell

New Zealand is running out of the vaccine against shingles just two months after it was made free for adults aged 65 to 80.

Over 180,000 New Zealanders in that age bracket have been given the vaccine since the no-charge policy from general practices kicked in on April 1.

Pharmac confirmed that stock for the immunisation was nearly out and has apologised for the inconvenience.

The risk of catching the lethal skin rash increases with age and is caused by the same virus as chickenpox.

After recovering from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body and moves to the roots of the nerve cells, near the spinal cord, and becomes inactive.

If the virus becomes active again, shingles is the name given to the symptoms it causes and can’t be caught by human contact.

The supplier of the vaccine, Merck Sharpe and Dohme, has advised that due to manufacturing constraints the next delivery of the vaccine has been delayed and won’t be in New Zealand until early July.

“While there is currently some stock, we expect that there will be a short period where the vaccine isn’t available in some parts of the country.”

Pharmac has said that it was pleasing to know that so many New Zealanders had taken the opportunity to be vaccinated against the shingles infection.

“We apologise for any inconvenience that this short-term stock issue may cause.”

Source: NZ Herald

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