Swine flu causes shortage of seasonal flu shots

October 12, 2009 4:11:25 PM PDT
As H1N1 vaccine starts arriving, finding a seasonal flu shot is becoming more difficult

Vicki Young, of Green Lane, Pennsylvania, said she went to get her seasonal flu shot like she does every year, only this year she said her local pharmacy had to turn her away.

"I was surprised. I walked up and they told me they only had two more doses and they were going to kids. They were turning people away," she said.

Many local pharmacies including the ones inside Acme, Giant and Genuardi's may also soon start turning people away. All are reporting limited doses of the seasonal flu vaccine. Genuardi's has about three more weeks of doses left. Giant plans to stop their flu shot clinics after October 22nd.

The limited supply is partly due to manufacturers switching their focus to the production of the H1N1 vaccine and partly due to an increase in demand for the flu shot this year.

Jeff Rafsky of Premier Immediate Medical Care said they received 1,000 doses of seasonal flu three weeks ago. It's already gone and they are not sure when they will get more.

However, the urgent care clinic (which has three branches in Pennsylvania) did receive 3,000 doses of the H1N1 flu mist vaccine. They started vaccinating staff today and will start vaccinating the public Tuesday.

"We're going to follow the CDC guidelines and start by vaccinatinating high priority targets," said Dr. Robert DiTizio. Those groups include healthy people ages 2-24, healthcare workers, emergency responders, and caretakers of infants under 6-months-old or people with suppressed immune systems.

For information about Premier Immediate Medical Care and getting an H1N1 vaccination, visit:

www.premierimc.com

As for the seasonal flu vaccine, there are still doses available at local pharmacies but it's recommended people act quickly.

Vicki Young did find somewhere to get a flu shot, she will be getting one soon.

"I don't want to run the risk of anyone in my family getting sick," she said.

Although most flu viruses circulating now are the H1N1 strain, CDC experts say they expect both the H1N1 and another seasonal starin to circulate this season so getting a seasonal flu shot is still recommended for most people, especially for people with medical conditions or who take care of people with medical conditions.

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