Pharmacies struggle with high demand for flu shots

California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Needles and syringes are in high demand as people rush to local pharmacies for flu shots but some patients are being turned away because some places are running out of supply.

Dr. Randy Bergen is a pediatrician and the lead for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California’s flu vaccine program.

“We’re ready and able to vaccinate all of our members,” Dr. Bergen said. 

He says his health system ordered more than two million doses of the flu vaccine in anticipation of high demand and says in just the past month, more than one million members have received their shot.

He does not anticipate running out of the vaccine or supplies.

“On a macro level, the supply is fine. But on micro levels, there may be issues,” Dr. Bergen said. 

That includes local pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

Some stores are struggling to keep up with demand but not to worry.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says manufacturers have projected they will supply up to 198 million doses of influenza vaccine for the flu season.

The CDC says while no significant delays have been reported.

In some places, robust demand for vaccines and supplies, like needles or syringes may mean some providers may run out of shots and supplies before their next shipment has arrived but more will be ordered.

Eventually the supply will be expected to catch up to demand.

“Over 60,000 patients have already booked their flu shot online,” Jenny Buchanan, with Sutter Bay Medical Foundations, said.

Sutter Bay Medical Foundations say their clinics are well-equipped to vaccinate people through the flu season.

“They don’t have to panic. We will have supplies,” Buchanan said. 

It’s best to get vaccinated now before the height of the flu season — December through February.

After the shot, it takes two-weeks to build up immunity from the virus.

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