Last night, Merck updated its online "Vaccine Supply Status" page -- it seems that all the kinks in the live herpes zoster vaccine production facilities have been solved, and all back orders are being filled, in nearly real time, now (click to see full-size image of relevant page at right -- salmon-colored matter is new):
. . . .All backorders have shipped. Zostavax®, 1 single-dose 0.65 mL vials have resumed standard shipping. . . .
Orders through 12/09/11 have shipped. Order Date: Estimated Delivery:
12/10/11 - 12/16/11 12/21/11
12/17/11 - 12/26/11 12/28/11
For orders 12/27/11 or later, Zostavax®, 10 single-dose 0.65 mL vials will resume standard shipping. . . .
This is clearly good news. Still, it points to just how complicated vaccine manufacturing is -- as a uniquely biological process. It is not a simple powder-pill stamping endeavor, by any means. It is not even cooking a perfect soufflé -- it is far more difficult than that. And it has to be done by the hundred of thousands of doses, in a batch. Daunting bio-science, that.
This vaccine has faced manufacturing issues, and resulting short supplies, for almost two and one half years, straight. Still, good to see Merck get the process worked out, and back online, in scale. My hat's off -- 'ere's to 'em.