On November 24th, Health Canada extended the approval for the non-live shingles vaccine known as SHINGRIX. Beyond the current approval for use in adults aged 50 and over, Shingrix is now approved for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in adults aged 18 years and older who are or will be at increased risk of herpes zoster due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by known disease or therapy.
As all the patients we treat for autoimmune diseases have an increased of shingles at an earlier age than the general public, it makes sense to offer this vaccine when the increased risk is identified, whether that be at age 25, 35 or over 50. Adults of any age with increased risk can benefit from this protection. Shingrix is given as a series of 2 injections and full protection occurs approximately 2 weeks after the second dose. Although the standard dosing for the 2 doses is to be given 2-6 months apart, the new Health Canada update allows for individuals who are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed and who would benefit from a shorter vaccination schedule, the second dose can be given 1 to 2 months after the initial dose.
Shingrix is available to many adults through their private insurance plan. Public health supply issued by family physicians is for adults age 65-70. As access to family doctors for vaccination has been reduced during the pandemic, there is an extension to include seniors born in 1949, 1950, and 1951. This is valid until Dec 31, 2022, at which time the oldest eligible patients will be inclusive of 73 years of age. For people who do not have private insurance or fall outside the age category for publicly funded supply, Shingrix can be purchased at any pharmacy without a prescription and administered by a pharmacist certified in injection administration.
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.