Local pharmacy facing shortage in high-dose flu shot for elderly

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – It is November, so that means flu season is in full swing, but supply chain problems are hitting locally-owned pharmacies, making it harder for those ages 65 and older to get a high-dose flu vaccine.

Pharmacist Krista Plaxco, with Star Pharmacy, says it’s been tough for the independently-owned. Whereas big box stores can order in bulk and stay stocked through my wholesalers, the little guys depend on just a couple, and when those are impacted by the supply chain, the pharmacy suffers.

Plaxco said it has been a week and a half since they’ve been able to order the high-dose flu shots from their wholesalers, despite checking in every day. Throughout the entire season, the supply has ebbed and flowed, hitting the first major snag at the start of flu season before leveling out, and now being nearly wiped out again.

Right now, the pharmacy has about a week’s supply left heading into the holidays.

Plaxco said it is disheartening because their patients, ages 65 and older need that higher dose of the flu shot to help prevent ending up severely sick and potentially in the hospital.

She adds this is just another obstacle locally owned-and-operated businesses are facing to get proper care to their patients during this pandemic.

“We’re stressing the importance of getting the supply in. we’re hoping little by little it’ll trickle in,” Plaxco said. “It’s been a tough season ever since COVID started. Its been fighting for hand sanitizer, for masks, for COVID shots. You know, healthcare, we’re worn out.”

She said they’re exploring tertiary wholesalers that they don’t normally work with to try and get re-stocked and stay stocked through the rest of the season.

For now, her advice for patients over 65 is to call the pharmacy first before making the trip to get the shot just to check in on supply levels. If Star can’t get the shot to you yet, she says, it’s important to try to get it somewhere before January hits and peak flu season begins.

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