From 1 November, older and severely immunocompromised Australians will be given free access to Shingrix®, a new, effective shingles vaccine.
Shingrix® is a non-live vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) and related complications and has been shown in clinical trials to provide good protection against shingles in people who were severely immunocompromised.
Shingles causes significant illness, especially in those over the age of 50 and people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.
Currently, Zostavax® is provided for free to adults over the age of 70 under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) to protect against shingles. Zostavax®, which is a live-attenuated vaccine, is not recommended for people who are immunocompromised. Some people with MS are deemed to be immunocompromised because of medications they are receiving to treat their MS.
People who are eligible for the Shingrix® vaccine via the NIP from 1 November include:
· Individuals 65 years of age and older;
· Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged 50 years and older;
· Immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and older with conditions at ‘high risk’ of shingles. These include haemopoietic stem cell transplant, solid organ transplant, haematological malignancy and advanced or untreated HIV.
This includes people living with MS who have undergone autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT).
In November, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) will be meeting to consider subsidising Shingrix® for the broader population of immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and over at increased risk of shingles. This will potentially include people with MS on certain disease modifying therapies (DMTs).
MS Australia has been advocating for the inclusion of Shingrix® on the PBS for the broader immunocompromised population over the age of 18 years. Our submission to the PBAC can be viewed here. Making it affordable and available to people who can benefit from it is vital, reducing the impact of shingles on their lives.
MS Australia supports affordable access to all proven treatment options, helping people with MS access effective therapies suited to their individual circumstances.