Flu shot shortage in Richmond area

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A health alert: if you plan on getting a seasonal flu shot this year, you might have trouble finding the vaccine. Right now, Ukrop's only has FluMist, the alternative to the injectable vaccine.

Because of a delay in shipments of the seasonal flu shot, other providers across the nation including right here in Richmond are experiencing shortages.

It was Mary Scott's plan all along to protect herself against seasonal flu.

"I happened to see a sign for flu shots come on down," said Scott as she walked up to the pharmacy at the Ukrop's on Forest Hill.

But Scott didn't expect limited options. The company has been flooded with calls, mostly from seniors.

"They seem to be surprised that we're out," said Ukrop's John Beckner.

"There are three manufacturers of seasonal flu vaccine we elected to go with two this year and both have experienced shipping delays then again primarily because of the need to get H1N1 into the marketplace," said Beckner.

A Kroger spokesperson says they won't have any seasonal flu shots left by week's end. Jewish Family Services which has an annual flu shot program for homebound seniors is scaling back its efforts because of the shortage. It only has a few dozen doses on reserve for homebound seniors.

Chesterfield's Buford Pharmacy says its supply is less than anticipated but right now they have plenty to go around. State health officials say part of the problem is all the hype surrounding seasonal flu which led to an increase in demand.

If you don't want to wait for the injectable vaccine there is another option called FluMist. It works the same way. But first you have to check to see if you qualify for it and if your pharmacy is carrying it.

"Very painless," said Scott as the pharmacist gives her the FluMist.

"Better to be safe than sorry," said Scott.

Virginia Health Department officials say about 77 million doses were distributed nationwide as of October 2nd. But it could be the end of November before health care providers receive their full orders. Ukrop's hopes to provide "walk-in" flu shot service by early next month.

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