There are several pediatric practices across Monroe County which currently have little to no chicken pox vaccine.
“Currently, we're on our last few vials of Verivax and we are completely out at my other office and we won't be getting another shipment in until next week,” says Dr. Anne Francis, a pediatrician at Elmwood Pediatrics Group in Rochester.
“But, there's been such a run on it across the country, there are school entrance requirements, and this is a big time of year for students getting those vaccines.”
The problem has to do with the vaccine's maker, Merck pharmaceuticals.
The company used too much of its existing chicken pox vaccine in order to create a new, combination MMR vaccine. When the company realized the new MMR vaccine required too much chicken pox vaccine component, Merck then stopped the combination vaccine’s production. Officials with Merck say there are adequate supplies of Verivax, however, recent problems with shipping and packing have hampered delivery across the nation, including Monroe County.
“Right now, there's a three week delay in delivering the vaccines because they process the vaccine,” says Dr. Francis.
According to a new NYS law, all children entering sixth grade must have a single dose of varicella (chicken pox) vaccine and a booster shot for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). If children received a double doses of the chicken pox vaccine early in development, they are covered for entry to school. However, children who have not had two doses of by the time they reach sixth grade must be vaccinated.
Monroe County school districts are aware of the temporary shortage. Officials in the Victor School District are working with parents and pediatricians to ensure students entering middle school are vaccinated as soon as possible.