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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Government grapples with shingles vaccine rollout fiasco

Health Industry Hub | February 5, 2024 |

Pharma News: In the wake of significant delays in the initial stages of the $800 million rollout of the Shingrix vaccine, General Practitioners (GPs) across the nation find themselves delivering unfortunate news to eager patients facing treatment accessibility issues.

Despite the challenges, Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly expressed enthusiasm for the high demand witnessed during the first three months of the $800 million program. With over 487,000 doses administered, Professor Kelly reassured the public that the government is dedicated to ensuring timely access to this crucial shingles vaccine.

Acknowledging the current difficulties faced by some individuals in accessing the vaccine due to overwhelming demand, Professor Kelly assured the public that ample doses of Shingrix are ready for administration nationwide, with an additional 100,000 doses set to be distributed in the coming fortnight.

“The Government is also working closely with the vaccine supplier, GSK, to explore options to bring forward additional deliveries of Shingrix into Australia,” said Dr Kelly.

Changes to the National Immunization Program, implemented on November 1st of the previous year, saw Shingrix replace CSL/MSD’s Zostavax, a process that requires time and coordination with state and territory health departments for nationwide distribution.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime, and 20% of those will suffer severe nerve pain which can become permanent.

Highlighting the importance of the shingles vaccination program, Minister Mark Butler, Federal Health and Aged Care, referred to the virus as a “very serious public health menace” during the launch of the free vaccine. Hospital operators echoed this sentiment, emphasising the increasing frequency of shingles-related issues among older Australians in medical facilities.

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