A family member was on hold with a neighborhood chain pharmacy during a recent call. The purpose of the call? To schedule her second shot in the new shingles vaccination regimen. Even though she got shot number one there, the response was not one single outlet of the giant chain in the Richmond region had the vaccine, and none would give her an idea when to call back.
While she was on hold, the voice-over ad was touting the new shingles vaccine! “That ad decision was made by corporate” the frustrated pharmacist said when challenged on that point. Well, I suspect corporate was compensated well for that decision.
It was easy to find this Washington Post piece about the shortage and this information on the Centers for Disease Control website. CDC expects the shortage to last through 2018 and that chain drug store, with the three-letter name, told my family member they are so swamped with demand that most stores simply will not do the shots even if supply comes in.
Shingles is no fun, I’m told, but it won’t kill you. The CDC reports no similar shortage of vaccines for the diseases that can kill you, such as meningitis or pneumonia.
This tells me demand is purely a function of a massive advertising campaign by the manufacturer and is also driven by the co-pay-less availability of this “ounce of prevention” under many health plans. The role of advertising and other marketing practices in the misallocation of health resources in this country is substantially underestimated. We do pay for those ads, one way or another.
I had to think back to earlier statements on Bacon’s Rebellion that just because another 300,000 or more Virginians may soon have a third-party payment method for health care that is no guarantee they will find it. And if massive resources are going to be deployed to create such overwhelming demand, should the shingles shot be the target?There are currently no comments highlighted.