Zostavax is the first and only shingles vaccine funded on the National Immunisation Program (NIP), for eligible 70-year-olds, with a time-limited catch-up program funded for people aged 71-79 years.
While Shingrix is recently TGA registered, this vaccine is currently only available on the private market. The implementation of new vaccination programs under the NIP is a major task that can take about 12-18 months from receipt of government funding approval. This time is required for activities such as the procurement of vaccine, vaccine safety surveillance planning, development of appropriate communications, and negotiation with states and territories regarding implementation and timing.
Healthcare professionals are reminded of the already NIP-funded shingles vaccine Zostavax and the importance of protecting their 70-79-year-old patients now, against shingles and its complications, including postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Zostavax offers protection against shingles in a single dose. Worldwide, more than 39 million doses of Zostavax have been distributed since 2006. Zostavax can be administered at the same time as influenza vaccines, using a different syringe and injection site.
Adult vaccination rates are well below paediatric vaccination rates. Additionally, cases of shingles and PHN are on the rise in older Australians. In clinical trials, Zostavax reduced the incidence of PHN by 67 per cent versus placebo in adults 60 years and older.
Zostavax is a live attenuated varicella zoster vaccine, administered subcutaneously. In clinical trials, Zostavax has been evaluated for safety in more than 32,000 adults 50 years and older. Zostavax is generally well tolerated. The most commonly reported side-effects include erythema, pain/tenderness, swelling and pruritus at the injection site.