Flu Vaccine Shortage Reported, Manufacturers Deny It

Some parts of the country are reporting a flu vaccine shortage because of increased demand in a tough flu season. The season started earlier and has been more severe than in previous years.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), addressed the vaccine shortage, saying:

“The bottom line is there’s vaccine out there. There may be places where there are spot shortages, but there should be a little bit more coming, so people may have to check around for it.”

Skinner added that US flu vaccine manufacturers have also increased the number of doses they intend to produce this year. Previous estimates were for 137 million, but the number has since increased to 145 million, reports USA Today.

About 128 million of those doses have already shipped. Skinner added that the “vast majority” of those doses have been used and that “we had 112 million people vaccinated by the end of November.

Robert Perry, a spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, one of the two US flu vaccine producers, stated that they produced about 25 million doses of flu vaccine for the 2012-2013 season. Because of high demand, all of those doses have been spoken for, though shipping won’t finish until early to mid-February.

The Los Angeles Times notes that 47 states are now reporting widespread flu symptoms, causing more people to rush to pharmacies and doctors’ offices for the flu vaccine. Curtis Allen, another spokesman for the CDC, added:

“We are aware there are spot shortages, but if you seek it out you should be able to find it. There has been a lot of attention to the severity of the season and therefore people are seeking out the vaccine because we are in the middle of a season that is moderate to severe.”

Have you received your flu shot? If not, is it because of a flu vaccine shortage in your area?