Zoster vaccine funding push

Zostavax was recommended by the PBAC in 2008 for people aged 60 with a catch-up program for those aged 61—79 at an estimated cost of more than $100 million in the first five years.

Prolonged supply problems experienced by manufacturer Merck meant the recommendation lapsed and the vaccine only became available on private prescription last year.

Associate Professor Michael Woodward, head of aged and residential care services at Austin Health, said there is still not enough awareness about the importance of vaccinating older populations.

“I think Australia would be remiss in making it harder for older people to get access to this vaccine.

“It’s 50% effective in preventing acute episodes of shingles and 60% effective in preventing postherpetic neuralgia,” he said.