PEI

Several Island pharmacies say Twinrix vaccine out of stock

Several Island pharmacies say Twinrix — a popular vaccine for travellers — is out of stock right now and it's leaving travellers in a bind.

Popular vaccine for travellers, Twinrix protects against hepatitis A and hepatitis B

Officials with Health PEI say the public health system is not experiencing a shortage, and the vaccine remains available for high-risk groups. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Several Island pharmacies say Twinrix — a popular vaccine for travellers — is out of stock right now and the P.E.I Pharmacists Association says the Twinrix shortage is still a problem.

Allan Greene, manager at Murphy's Parkdale Pharmacy in Charlottetown, said his pharmacy has been out of it for weeks and it's leaving travellers in a bind.

"They are not very happy," said Greene.

"And you can't blame them, because people book holidays and want to take as many health precautions as they can."

Allan Greene, pharmacy manager with Murphy's Parkdale Pharmacy, says his pharmacy is out of the hepatitis A vaccine, and he's not sure when they'll have more. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

The vaccine contains the immunization against both hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease spread through direct contact with an infected person or by eating contaminated food or water, and hepatitis B, a liver infection spread through contact with blood, open sores, or the bodily fluids of someone with the virus.

Last shipment was Sept. 14

GlaxoSmithKline, the company that manufactures Twinrix, hasn't shipped any since the middle of September and the company told CBC Nova Scotia last week that "a disruption in the manufacturing process" is the cause of the shortage. 

Greene said he's been in touch with the company as recently as this week and was told there's a problem with manufacturing, and there's currently no availability date.

He says in the meantime, they've been offering the hepatitis vaccines separately — but that solution isn't going to last.   

"The problem we're running into now, because Twinrix has not been available for that long, we're starting to see a shortage of hepatitis B vaccines as well as hepatitis A," said Greene.

Pharmacist Allan Greene said the Twinrix Junior vaccine for children remains available, but for adults, that would mean two needles and double the price. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

He said currently, his pharmacy is out of the hepatitis A vaccine, and he's not sure when they'll have more.

Pharmacies working to offer alternatives

The children's version of the vaccine, Twinrix Junior, is still available, but for adults that means two needles and double the cost.

Greene recommends anyone with international travel plans consult their pharmacist, or a travel clinic — and take extra precautions with what they eat and drink while on holiday.  

Officials with Health PEI say the public health system is not experiencing a shortage, and the vaccine remains available for high-risk groups, including people who are HIV positive, anyone diagnosed with a liver disease or those with a blood clotting disorder.

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About the Author

Jessica Doria-Brown

Videojournalist

Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

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