EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County pharmacies are experiencing a flu vaccine shortage.
People all over our area headed the flu warnings and rushed out to get flu shots. The problem is most are now out and it’s unclear when new shipments will come in.
We spent most of the morning calling a couple dozen pharmacies around Lane County. Most say they are out. Some have the shot for people over 65.
We immediately called the health department and this was news to them, but late Thursday afternoon a temporary remedy seems to have been found and it has to do with the urgent care here.
Rite Aid, Safeway, Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, Costco, Walgreens and Bi-mart–the list goes on and on of places out or running out of the flu vaccine.
“Lots of phone calls, lots of people looking for a flu vaccine,” said Scott Davis, Bi-Mart Pharmacy Manager.
It seems word of the nationwide outbreak is sending people rushing to find the shot.
A lot of the vaccine is being diverted to the East and South where there’s a state of emergency. And January isn’t usually a time when pharmacies plan to have an abundance of stock.
“There’s a huge part of the population that’s under 65, and tomorrow we should have some of that vaccine available for them,” Scott Davis said.
“We haven’t seen a situation like this since the 2009-10 H1N1 crisis,” said Jason Davis, Lane County Health and Human Services spokesman.
After finding out about the shortage Thursday morning, Lane County Health and Human Services realized it was time to get all hands on deck. An emergency meeting was called, and an incident command center was set up.
“We got all of our public health officials together, our head of public health, Dr. Patrick Luedtke, various other public health officials,” Jason Davis said.
At the meeting, it was discovered there are only about 500 doses left spread out among Eugene and Springfield pharmacies. But it was also determined that there are about 2,000 available among the Eugene Urgent Care clinics. The shots cost $20, and the clinics do have pediatric doses available.
Davis says Lane County hasn’t hit its peak of this flu season. And everyone involved says if anything this situation has taught us one very important thing.
“When the flu shot becomes available in August, September, that’s really when you should get it,” Jason Davis said.
“The good thing is this year, it’s a very good flu strain as far as protection from the flu,” Scott Davis said.
There’s no need to panic, no need to go out and buy masks, just focus more on hand washing, coughing and sanitizing your work areas so we can stop the spread of the flu.
Lane County Health says if you want to still get the shot from your pharmacy, call before you go because there are only 500 doses spread out.
Again, your best bet is the urgent care clinic. They are ready, and they stay open pretty late.
An interesting statistic, there are only 120 million doses of the vaccine available nationwide to go around, so there was never enough to go around to begin with.