A continuous supply of the world’s only vaccine against the painful shingles infection is now available in New Zealand.
The Zostavax vaccine has been in short supply as it is complex to manufacture and demand is high.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
After chickenpox blisters heal, the virus that caused them stays in the body’s nerve cells. If it becomes active again it can cause blistering and a painful rash which usually appears on one side of the body.
The non-funded Zostavax vaccine can be administered to people over the age of 50 to reduce their risk of developing the infection and its complications.
Post-herpetic neuralgia, chronic pain lasting for months and even years after the rash has disappeared, is the most common complication of shingles.
It is estimated one in three people will have shingles in their lifetime and 50 per cent will have by the age of 80.