Flu shots in short supply as New Yorkers seek to avoid ‘twindemic’
It’s the vaccine everyone’s clamoring for — and it’s already in short supply.
New Yorkers are rushing to get their annual flu shots perhaps hoping to avoid what’s been deemed the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and influenza.
The C.O. Bigelow Pharmacy in the Village ran out of the flu vaccine three weeks ago and has a waiting list of about 200 people who want their shots, said Joe Camp, a manager at the Sixth Avenue shop.
“It won’t work for COVID, but it gives them peace of mind,” Camp said.
The Caligor Pharmacy at the Upper East Side ordered its main flu shot supply in April, but has not received it. It has just a small inventory on hand of the adult vaccine and none of the higher dose shots for seniors, said Rachel Mushibayev, the supervising pharmacist.
She said demand was high including from those who would normally get vaccinated at their workplaces, but are now at home.
“We do have patients who are coming in because they’re not able to get them at their usual places,” she said.
Moms are also complaining on social media that their pediatricians’ offices have run out of the vaccine or have long waits for appointments.
“Many more patients came in September for their flu vaccine than in typical years,” said Dr. Rebecca Farber at Apple Pediatrics with offices on the Upper East Side and midtown.
Farber said vaccine manufacturers were only giving private practices a set monthly allocation based on the previous year’s numbers. She said her practice was due for its next shipment Monday.
“But we have had a week without the vaccine to give our patients,” she said.
Between 194 and 198 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be available in the US, but with some shipments staggered in the coming months.
Northwell Health, the state’s biggest hospital system, has plenty of the vaccine on hand, said Dr. David Battinelli, senior vice president and chief medical officer.
He said getting a flu shot this year was particularly important.
“It would certainly be devastating to get the flu and COVID at the same time,” he said.
And since the flu and COVID-19 share some of the same symptoms, including a fever and body aches, it would help doctors to know whether a patient had been vaccinated to possibly rule out a flu case, Battinelli said.
The CityMD urgent care centers said they were experiencing a rush for the vaccine.
“This year more than ever, it is important that you receive your flu shot early. It appears the public is heeding this message. Due to high demand, we recommend calling your CityMD location ahead of visit to confirm the flu shot is in stock,” said Dr. Dan Frogel, chief medical officer for the New York region of the network.
The Duane Reade and Walgreens chain said it was expecting demand for the flu and pneumonia vaccines to be as much as 50% higher than normal and had “ample supply.”
CVS said it was expecting to give out 18 million flu shots although at least one outlet, the Court Street store in Cobble Hill, has been running out by day’s end.
“If a local store temporarily runs low on its supply due to high demand in the area, it will be replenished as quickly as possible,” said Matt Blanchette, a CVS spokesman.
With Post wires
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