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New Zealanders flock to get shingles vaccine

New Zealanders flock to get shingles vaccine

ZOSTAVAX™ (Zoster Vaccine Live) supplies temporarily out of stock

Auckland, June 9th, 2014 – New Zealanders have flocked to surgeries in recent months to get the world’s first and only vaccine, ZOSTAVAX™, that helps protect against the acute and chronic pain of shingles. Shingles affects up to 1 in 3 people, who have had chickenpox, during their lives.

Demand for the vaccine has been so great that manufacturer, MSDNZ, has been out of stock for a couple of weeks. A new shipment has just arrived but there is a waiting list to clear, so it’s likely the vaccine will be out of stock again for several weeks towards the end of June.

“We knew there was some demand for this vaccine because of sales of a previous small supply but we’ve been completely bowled over by the numbers of New Zealanders requesting shingles vaccination”, comments Paul Smith, New Zealand Director, MSD. We are acting as quickly as we can to fill the backorders caused by the unexpectedly high demand we’ve experienced, which has accelerated over the last three months.

Mr Smith apologises for the stock outages and assures New Zealanders that from July onwards there should be sufficient stock to satisfy demand. The vaccine has been in short supply because it is complex to manufacture and global demand is high.

Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles, and the risk and severity of this disease increases markedly from 50 years of age. Chronic pain is the most common complication of shingles and this can last for months, even years. Consequently, the impact on shingles sufferers can be severe, affecting all aspects of their home and work lives.

“This vaccine provides the only option to help prevent this debilitating disease.”

In New Zealand, ZOSTAVAX can be administered to individuals who are 50 years or older to reduce the risk of developing shingles and its associated acute and chronic pain. ZOSTAVAX® is a non-funded prescription medicine therefore patient charges will apply for the single dose needed. More information can be found at

About MSD
Today's MSD is working to help the world be well. Through our medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer and animal products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching programs that donate and deliver our products to the people who need them. MSD. Be Well. For more information, visit:

TAPS NO: 4442

1. ZOSTAVAX Data Sheet
2. Immunisation Handbook, 2011

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE USING ZOSTAVAX (zoster vaccine, live) 0.65 mL vial for injection: ZOSTAVAX is indicated for immunisation of individuals 50 years of age or older for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles), the prevention of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and the reduction of acute and chronic zoster-associated pain. ZOSTAVAX should not be given to patients who: have a hypersensitivity reaction or are allergic to gelatin or neomycin; have a blood disorder or low immunity, have untreated tuberculosis; are receiving immunosuppressive therapy; have a fever; are or may potentially be pregnant. Pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months following vaccination. ZOSTAVAX is not recommended for children or for nursing mothers. Common side effects are: headache and localised injection site reactions. ZOSTAVAX is a private purchase prescription only medicine that the patient will need to pay for. Price may vary across different surgeries. Marketed by: Merck Sharp & Dohme (NZ) Limited, Newmarket, Auckland. For detailed prescribing information, consult the consumer medicine information, phone 0800 500 673 or refer to the Medsafe website [MPI-ZST-1] VACC-1101661-0029


What is shingles & PHN?
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After your chickenpox blisters heal, the virus that caused them stays in your body in nerve cells. The virus may be there for many years and not cause a problem. Sometimes, though, it becomes active again. If this happens it can cause a blistering and painful rash, usually appearing on one side of your body. This is a sign that the virus that has been dormant in the nerve cells has reactivated, travelled down the nerves and followed a path out to the skin. Because the nerves along the path become inflamed, shingles can be very painful. The most common complication of shingles is post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). This is chronic pain that can last for months, even years, after the rash has disappeared.

Patients have described the pain of PHN as burning, throbbing, stabbing, shooting and/or sharp pain.

Who is at risk of shingles & PHN?
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will experience shingles in their lifetime and that by 80 years of age, 50% of individuals will have experienced an episode of shingles. Anyone who has ever contracted chickenpox (varicella) can experience shingles, however over two-thirds of cases occur over the age of 50, and the frequency and severity of complications increase markedly with age.

As with shingles, the risk of PHN also increases with age.

Who is ZOSTAVAX indicated for?
In adults 50 years of age or older, ZOSTAVAX is indicated for:
• Prevention of herpes zoster (shingles).
• Prevention of Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN).
• Reduction of acute and chronic shingles-associated pain.


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