Shingles vaccine program to begin at Island pharmacies

Prince Edward Island will launch its publicly-funded shingles vaccine program this month, with the Shingrix™ vaccine available free of charge to PEI seniors.

Islanders aged 65 and over can book their free Shingrix vaccine to prevent shingles at community pharmacies starting the week of February 21. The cost of the vaccine is being covered by the provincial government.

Vaccine appointments can be booked directly by contacting a community pharmacy by phone or through online booking on their website. 

“PEI has one of the most comprehensive public immunization programs in the country for both children and adults, thanks to the work of our community partners and the efforts of a national vaccine procurement strategy. This new program will help our Island seniors avoid the pain and suffering of shingles."

- Health and Wellness Minister Ernie Hudson

PEI will receive approximately 3,800 doses of Shingrix™ per month between now and March 2023. Two doses of the vaccine given two to six months apart are needed for optimal protection. "Shingles can be a very debilitating condition," said Erin MacKenzie, executive director of the PEI Pharmacists Association. "By making Shingrix available through community pharmacies, eligible Islanders will have improved access to a vaccine that can help to prevent this condition, which affects approximately one in three people."

Statistics Canada estimates PEI’s population aged 65 and over exceeds 32,000 people. At 70 per cent uptake, approximately 45,000 doses of vaccine will be administered in the first year of the program.

Both the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and PEI’s Chief Public Health Office recommend Shingrix™ as the preferred vaccine for adults in preventing shingles disease.

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has chickenpox, the virus lies inactive inside them, and years later the virus may reactivate as shingles.  It is estimated that 30 per cent of adults will develop shingles in their lifetime and 10 per cent will develop lingering and debilitating nerve pain.

Media Contact:
Ron Ryder
Health and Wellness
(902) 314-6367

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