If you're looking to combat the seasonal flu with a vaccine, they're becoming harder to find across Mid-Michigan. Dr. Robert Graham the Medical Director of the Mid and Central Michigan District Health Department says, "For Clinton County, we're getting near the end of our supply." He says high demand is just one reason some providers are running out of the seasonal flu vaccine. The other is that later shipments are delayed due to manufacturing issues. Some vaccine clinics are even being postponed.
Spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Community Health James McCurtis says, "There is a shortage or delay going on because of the manufacturing and a lot of that probably has to do with the manufacturing of H1-N1 vaccine as well. So, because manufacturers have the manufacturing of H1-N1 and seasonal flu vaccines, it's kind of slowing down seasonal flu production."
McCurtis says, "If you look at the numbers, typically, the manufacturer is used to doing 50 million vaccines, this year because of H1N1, that would be 50 million seasonal flu vaccines, then they have to do another 70 some odd million for H1-N1 so that came up to 120 some odd million vaccines they have to do.
The seasonal flu vaccine supplies are also running out at retail pharmacies like Walgreen's in Lansing. Wednesday, one of the last stores to have the vaccines on had was the store on MLK and Holmes. They had about 40 left at the beginning of the day at that location.
Although there is a backlog in the manufacturing of the vaccines, McCurtis says, "People should not panic right now, they should just continue calling their local county health department or their primary care physician to see if they can have only seasonal flu vaccine in stock if they do, set up an appointment to go get their vaccine."
He says, "We still haven't had word from the CDC to exactly when they're going to restart shipping seasonal flu vaccine out...we're, we are here at the state encouraging people to continue calling their physician,their primary care provider and also calling their local county health department to find out if they have it and where they can go. some retail pharmacies have the seasonal flu vaccines as well so we are encouraging people to use those sources and if there isn't any available....We're asking people to be patient because we're going to get a shipment in, it's just a matter of when the production is going to pick up."
Graham says, "Eventually it will get here and I hope and pray that people will still get the flu shot." He says the seasonal flu typically hits in December, so you still have some time to try and find a vaccine. McCurtis says it's important to get the seasonal flu shot when you can. He says that it will prevent you from getting the seasonal flu and swine flu at the same time. He says that will also prevent the two viruses from mixing and becoming something that's harder to fight.
We spoke with the Barry-Eaton Health Department, which tells us they might have to postpone future flu clinics because of the shortage. The health department in Jackson has about 100 doses left and might not anymore since there are no more mass clinics planned there. Ingham county did not return our calls.