Health officials say flu vaccine harder to get - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Health officials say flu vaccine harder to get, but still attainable

Siouxland District Health has given out nearly 700 shots of flu vaccine since getting it in late fall. Siouxland District Health has given out nearly 700 shots of flu vaccine since getting it in late fall.

Chris Keller has been a pharmacy manager for twelve years. So, he's used to the ups and downs of the flu season.

"Normally, we'd be winding down and hardly giving any flu shots at this point, and now we probably take about 40 or 50 phone calls a day," said Keller.

Keller says this Hy-Vee pharmacy offers shots whenever it's open, but it has also run out a few times because of demand.

"There is some frustration because there are a lot of people with the flu right now and they want to get vaccinated as soon as possible," said Keller.

Linda Drey is the nursing director for Siouxland District Health. She says this year's earlier outbreak definitely goes against the normal trend.

"People tend to play the waiting game. Well, I'll wait to see how bad it is or I'll wait to see if it's going to be a really bad year and then I might get my flu vaccine," said Drey.

According to the CDC, the flu season started earlier this year, is more severe and is expected to last longer. That has Keller re-ordering vaccines at least once or twice a week, depending on demand.

"It's not quite as easy to get as it was in the past, but it's still available," said Keller.

Keller says news reports about the flu often lead to a jump in demand, and a busier pharmacy for him.

"So that's created some temporary shortages, where we'll run out and have to order in some more," said Keller.

Siouxland District Health started out the year with more than 800 doses of the flu vaccine and an entire shelf in its refrigerator was full. Now, they're down to 120 doses and this is all they have left.

The year starts in the late fall when pharmacies and health clinics start prepping for flu season.

"We typically start giving flu vaccines in late September, October, as soon as the vaccine comes in," said Drey.

Health care officials expect to be busy giving shots well into March this year.

Tamiflu, a drug that's often given to people who have the flu has also been in short supply in its liquid form this year. But Keller says pharmacists will break down the capsules in order to have liquid available to customers.

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