US sees regional shortages of flu shots

The U.S. is seeing regional distribution challenges for flu shots because of a huge surge in demand early in this flu season, according to the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. 

Starting in September, reports began appearing that flu shots were running low or were out of stock in places around the country, Litjen Tan, PhD, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition and co-chair of the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit, told the center. 

A community pharmacy in Denver, Capitol Heights Pharmacy, reported that the 400 vaccines it had ordered for this flu season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic were gone by Sept. 26, even though it was 100 more shots than it ordered in 2019, according to the center. 

Vaccine distributors, including Cardinal, and manufacturers, including Sanofi, told the Denver pharmacy that there might not be any flu shots left after all preorders are filled. 

As of Oct. 16, 154.6 million doses of the flu vaccine had been sent across the U.S., an 18.7 percent increase over 2017, the last year with comparable numbers available, according to the CDC. The total number of flu shots available for this flu season is estimated to be 194 million to 198 million, a 24.9 percent to 27.5 percent increase from 2017. 

But Dr. Tan said vaccine shortages have been a regional problem and shouldn't disrupt the national vaccine level or cause an immunization problem, the center reported. 

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