Herpes zoster vax now widely available in Australia

Zostavax was recommended by the PBAC in 2008 for the over-60s with a catch-up program for those aged 61 to 79. Prolonged supply problems experienced by manufacturer Merck meant this recommendation lapsed after five years.

bioCSL is now preparing a fresh submission for reconsideration of the vaccine at the March 2014 meeting of the PBAC. However, due to the cost of an immunisation program cabinet approval is likely to be required. 

“We are committed to working with government to implement a potential Zostavax NIP listing as soon as possible,” said Sharon McHale, CSL senior director of public affairs.

In the meantime, the vaccine is widely available on private prescription for those over 50. 

More than 97% of the population have antibodies to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) by the age of 30 and are at risk of shingles, according to bioCSL. 

The sharpest increase in risk occurs between the age of 50 and