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No flu shot shortages, but some problems loom with ordering

Posted at 3:07 PM, Oct 07, 2020

CINCINNATI — Flu shots are at the forefront of everyone’s mind at Hart Pharmacy in West Price Hill.

Pharmacist Sarah Priestle said there’s been an increase in demand this year; people started calling to ask about the flu vaccine as early as Sept. 1.

Health officials are urging everyone to get a flu shot this year, as the vaccine could help prevent complications should someone contract COVID-19.

“There is no one out there that I can even think of that should not get a flu vaccine,” Priestle said.

So far, Hart Pharmacy has all the doses it needs of the standard flu vaccine, but it hasn’t been able to get any high dose vaccines, which are used for people 65 and older. Priestle said ordering any additional shipments of the flu vaccine has been a challenge.

“If I tried to order it today, I could not get it right now. It would be on back order,” she said.

In Blue Ash, Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics is reporting delays in their shipments of the vaccine.

Rose Hudepohl, practice administrator for Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics, said September shipments got pushed back three weeks.

The office received 2,700 doses in August, but the remaining 8,000 doses officials ordered have not arrived yet.

The office sent an email out to patients, notifying them of the delay.

“We’ve rescheduled maybe 1,500 kids, who could’ve been in and had their flu vaccine,” Hudepohl said.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics uses, said there are “no supply, production or manufacturing issues with our influenza vaccines for this flu season.”

However, in a statement to WCPO, the company said “effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a fast start to the flu immunization season, recent natural disasters around the country have impacted the timing of some shipments to customers.”

Priestle said it is not time to panic, but she said she will be worried if back orders and delays continue to persist.

“If we get to November and no one can get anymore, then I have concerns because we probably have only vaccinated half of the population we need to vaccinate,” Priestle said.

The Centers for Disease Control is not reporting any shortages in the flu vaccine nationwide. There are no shortages in Hamilton County or Northern Kentucky, according to health officials.

Still, Priestle recommends people call their pharmacy or doctor’s office to see if they have a vaccine available.