The shingles vaccine is funded for people aged 65 years old exactly.
About the shingles vaccine
The funded vaccine brand is Shingrix. This replaced the Zostavax brand in 2022 because it is no longer being made.
The shingles vaccines is fully funded for people aged 65. Two doses of Shingrix are required, given 6 months apart. As long as the person being vaccinated is 65 when they receive their first dose, both doses will be funded.
We started funding the shingles vaccine in 2018, which included a catch-up programme for people from 55 to 80 years of age. The catch-up programme ran from 1 April 2018 until 31 December 2021.
We are considering further funding applications for a number of groups who we understand could also benefit from the vaccine.
Advice and assessments
Of the proposals we are considering, three are on our Options for Investment (OFI) list. This means our clinical advisors have provided a positive funding recommendation and it’s something we would like to fund, subject to budget availability. These are for:
- people from 50 to 64 years of age and(external link)
- people over 65 years of age who have previously received Zostavax(external link)
- people of Māori of Pacific ethnicity aged 60 years or over(external link)
We acknowledge that there are concerns regarding Māori and Pacific people experiencing inequities with health conditions like shingles, and we understand our role in supporting equitable access to medicines.
We are also currently seeking clinical advice about people from 18 years of age who are immunocompromised and people over 65 years of age who missed their zoster vaccination at 65 years of age while access to immunisation or healthcare services was reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, Pharmac is unable to give a definitive timeframe for if, or when, funding decisions will be made as the relative priority of funding choices can change over time depending on the relative health benefits, amount of funding available, success of negotiations with suppliers, new clinical data, and the variety of other funding applications.
The shingles vaccine has been funded for people aged 65 since 1 April 2018. This limited window for access was decided following the clinical advice we received that the effectiveness reduced over time.
Pharmac funded the vaccine following recommendations from the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) and the Immunisation Advisory Committee.
The brand of shingles vaccine funded in 2018 (Zostavax) provided a relatively short period of protection and it provided less protection to older people.
Zostavax was discontinued by the supplier, so we funded Shingrix from 1 December 2022 for the same eligible population.
We ran a catch up programme since the funding for the vaccine was initiated in April 2018 until December 2021.
Paying for the vaccine yourself
Anyone older or younger than 65 years can purchase the vaccine privately.
Private pricing varies between pharmacies and medical centres as they set their own charges. Pharmac has no visibility over cost and availability of unfunded medicines, so we encourage people to contact different medical centres or pharmacies to obtain a quote on how much the vaccine will cost.
Funding decisions are a balancing act
While it is ultimately our role to decide which medicines are publicly funded, we work with external experts when making these difficult decisions. We're guided by robust evidence and the expertise of clinicians and the healthcare sector, and wider public.
Hearing that you’re not eligible for a treatment is difficult. We would love to be able to fund every medicine for every condition but unfortunately that's not possible.
We empathise with all New Zealanders who are unwell and their whānau who support them. Hearing how medicines impact the lives of New Zealanders is really important in helping us understand what medicines we should be funding.
Who to contact
If you have any questions about the funding of these vaccines, email email@example.com