Flu shot shortage at some CVS pharmacies

7:49 PM, Jan 14, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Flu shot shortage at some CVS pharmacies

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VENICE, Florida -- Parts of the northeast are seeing a shortage of the flu vaccine, and now places here in the Bay area are as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, of the 135-million flu vaccines made this year 128-million, or about 95 percent, have been distributed. That means there is a lot less to go around.

The sign is up and the message is not good at the CVS store on Tamiami Trail and Venice Avenue. They are out of flu shots. Customers are receiving the same message at four other CVS pharmacies in Venice and Osprey.

"You think they had seen far ahead of time they'd get low on it. I'm surprised," said 77-year-old Roberta Shepard. Roberta said she received her flu shot in September.

CVS pharmacists tell customers they hope for a delivery at the end of the week, but there's no guarantee this late in the season.

Steve Connolly got his flu vaccine back in October. He says, "Now with an epidemic, people are getting it who wouldn't be getting it. Smart."

The Gulf Coast Medical Group Urgent Care clinic is keeping busy. Doctors said they are seeing 20 percent more patients compared to this time last year. "We're averaging over 90 to 12 people a day coming in here, a lot with the flu, earlier than last year," said Dr. Mario DePinto. "A bunch did receive their flu shot, but developed the flu. The flu shot is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, it is 70 percent effective. It's the best we have, but it has 70 percent coverage."

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Dr. De Pinto said for added protection wash your hands well and often, avoid anyone who is sick, and do not touch your face. That's how germs are transmitted.

Despite the warnings of a flu season that's earlier and more aggressive, some refuse to get vaccinated. "I'm young enough to fight off the flu," said 60-year-old Adriaan Dolleman.

Instead, they worry about how this vaccine shortage may impact those who need it the most. Vicki Clark, 51, said, "I would rather see someone at high risk get the flu shot than I would, like the elderly and the young."

10 News tried several times to reach a CVS spokesperson to ask about the company's plan to restock these stores with the vaccine, but we have not heard back.

Walgreens officials said some stores experience daily shortages, but they are able to restock those stores with the vaccine within 24 hours.

Bay area hospitals said they are well stocked, but those vaccines are reserved for patients.

The good news is public health departments in the Bay area all say they have plenty of vaccines on hand. We have not heard of any shortages at doctor's offices.

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