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Local pharmacies struggle with "High Dose" flu vaccine shortage

Payless, CVS and Walgreens in West Lafayette have been dealing with the shortage. However, Walgreens and CVS do have the dosage in stock currently.

Posted: Oct 21, 2019 11:32 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2019 11:33 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Several pharmacies in the West Lafayette area have been struggling with a shortage of the "High Dose" flu vaccine. This dose is for those aged 65 or older. According to the CDC, the higher dose of antigen in the vaccine gives the elderly a better immune response.

The pharmacies at Payless, CVS and Walgreens along Sagamore Parkway have all been dealing with the shortage. However, Walgreens and CVS do have the dosage in stock currently. IU Health confirmed that they do not have a shortage of the vaccine. A Payless pharmacist said they quickly went through the small supply they were given.

It is unclear why there is a shortage. Sarah Kennedy is a pharmacist at IU Health. She said the flu can be very dangerous for the elderly.

"The most at-risk groups for the flu are babies and the elderly," she said. "However, everyone can be affected by the flu. They do see deaths in children all the way up to the elderly."

Getting a flu shot is no one's idea of fun, but getting your vaccine now can make all the difference in your health later.

"Everybody six months and older needs to get a vaccine this year," she said, "Hopefully it will prevent you from getting the flu and will lessen your symptoms if you do contract the flu this year."

Kennedy said it's too soon to tell how bad this year's flu season will be, but she said last year was considered to be a severe flu season. The CDC and the FDA monitor all production of the vaccine, and they try to be proactive in curbing the spread of the disease.

"They look and see what they're expecting from other parts of the world and piece together three or four different vaccines into the (main) vaccine so that hopefully they catch what's going to be the most problematic for the year," she said. 

Kennedy said there have already been reports of the flu in Indiana. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and body aches. This is not to be confused with the stomach flu, which the vaccine does not prevent.

"Stomach flu is more like a stomach bug, it's not necessarily a flu," she said. "That's gastrointestinal issues where we're talking about diarrhea, upset stomach and nausea."

She said October is the prime month to get your flu shot, and they have been busy at IU Health Arnett administering the vaccine. The flu season runs through April. It takes a full two weeks for your flu shot to take effect.

Most insurances cover flu shots for free. Those without insurance can get their shot at the Tippecanoe County Health Department for $20. 

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