I welcome the high demand for the Shingrix vaccine with over 487,000 doses already administered in the first 3 months of the program – and wish to assure the community the Australian Government is doing all it can to ensure eligible Australians have timely access to this important shingles vaccine.
I acknowledge some people may currently be experiencing difficulties accessing the vaccine because of this high demand, but there are vaccines ready to be administered all around the country and more being delivered on a regular basis.
Across the country, there are approximately half a million doses of Shingrix that are available to be administered – and more than 100,000 additional doses will be distributed nationwide over the coming fortnight.
The Australian Government is working closely with state and territory governments to ensure the distribution of Shingrix doses is equitable and adjusted to meet demand. The distribution of vaccines to local providers is managed by individual states and territories to ensure local supply is managed equitably and efficiently.
The Government is also working closely with the vaccine supplier, GSK, to explore options to bring forward additional deliveries of Shingrix into Australia.
Changes to the provision of the shingles vaccine under the Government’s National Immunisation Program came into effect on 1 November last year – with Shingrix replacing Zostavax. It takes time to distribute a new vaccine to healthcare providers across the country with the assistance of state and territory health departments.
Shingles vaccination is an ongoing program that is available to everyone over 65, First Nations people over 50, and immunocompromised people. For healthy individuals eligible for the program, there is no rush for a second dose, which can be given anytime between 2 and 6 months after the first dose of the vaccine.
It is also important to note that shingles is not contagious; it is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. Vaccination is the best protection to individuals, but shingles does not pose the same public health threat as communicable diseases.
People wishing to receive their shingles vaccine are encouraged to let their local GP or pharmacist know, and they can book you in when doses are available.
Further information about the shingles vaccine is available on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.