Patients clamor for scarce Merck vaccine

High demand for Merck's Zostavax shingles vaccine is causing shortages across the country. Doctors are putting patients on waiting lists; some physicians report hundreds of people in line for the shot. And this despite the fact that the vaccine is approved just for patients 60-plus (Merck is testing it now for the 50- to 59-year-olds)

The drugmaker didn't expect demand for Zostavax to shoot up so quickly, but that's not the only reason why production is lagging. The shot uses the same base as the chicken pox vaccine, and Merck had had some trouble ginning up enough of that ingredient. Plus, the CDC recently recommended two chicken-pox shots for kids rather than just one.

Merck says the delays could continue for "the coming months." Providers who've ordered doses first were told they'd arrive in 12-15 weeks, but now the word is, "We're not sure," said one pharmacist.

- read the story in the Wichita Eagle