Late scramble for vaccine as flu season starts heating up
WASHINGTON — Missed flu-shot day at the office last fall? And all those “get vaccinated” ads? A scramble for shots is under way as late-comers seek protection from a miserable flu strain already spreading through much of the country.
Federal health officials said Friday that there is still some flu vaccine available and it’s not too late to benefit from it. But people may have to call around to find a clinic with shots still on the shelf, or wait a few days for a new shipment.
“We’re hearing of spot shortages,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Manufacturers have shipped nearly 130 million doses to doctors’ offices, drugstores and wholesalers, out of the 135 million doses they had planned to make for this year’s flu season. At least 112 million have been used so far.
The nation’s largest manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said Friday that it still has supplies of two specialty vaccines, a high-dose shot for seniors and an under-the-skin shot for certain adults, available for immediate shipment.
But it also is working to eke out a limited supply of its traditional shots — some doses that it initially hadn’t packaged into syringes. They should be available late this month.
And MedImmune, the maker of the nasal spray vaccine FluMist, said it has 620,000 extra doses available.