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Pharmacies seeing more people get a flu shot because of COVID-19

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:17 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Craig Clark, the owner of Clark’s Pharmacy in Cedar Rapids, said he’s seeing almost double the interest in flu shots this season, which he thinks is because of COVID-19.

He said he’s had customers come in that have had to make several stops to find a flu shot, and he’s even gotten calls from other local offices asking for help stocking the vaccine.

“Surprisingly early on, some doctors and some clinics had run out. We did assist one office with a few doses, and they’ve asked us if we can get some more, but we’re down to almost nothing. We have just enough to finish our last couple of flu clinics,” Clark said.

Clark said he’s expecting to run out of the regular vaccine soon, and that’s after getting an extra 400 doses from his supplier. He does have plenty of high-dose vaccines meant for people over 65 because he works with several nursing homes. But he said once he runs out of that it would be difficult to get more.

It’s not just the smaller pharmacies feeling a pinch on the high dose vaccine.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said in a statement from Mike Brownlee, “We received the amount of the high-dose vaccine that we ordered, but weren’t able to order more when we heard the demand would be high. Demand is up but additional orders aren’t being accepted.”

UnityPoint Health is experiencing a similar situation, saying “St. Luke’s Hospital has received all of the high dose flu vaccine it preordered. Pharmacy staff shares if additional high dose flu vaccine is needed, it will be harder to acquire.”

Heather Meador, Linn County Public Health Clinical Branch Supervisor, said it’s always important to get a flu shot. She said this year, the addition of COVID-19 means there are two respiratory illnesses people need to stay safe from.

“What we don’t want are for individuals to get sick with influenza, their immune system is down, and then they contract COVID-19. It’s just that much harder for your body to recover," Meador said.

Meador said it’s especially important to get that flu shot before the weather gets worse and forces people inside, making it even harder to social distance, and making the extra level of protection even more important. If you can’t find a flu shot at one location, Meador said don’t stop looking. She said to check with a primary care physician or a local pharmacy like Clark’s Pharmacy. If that doesn’t work, make an appointment with Linn County Public Health.

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