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Flu vaccines running low at West Michigan pharmacy chains

11:21 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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Pharmacies are reporting short-term shortages of flu vaccines.

WALKER, Mich. (WZZM) -- Health officials are encouraging people to get the flu vaccine as the number of cases of the illness rises, but some of the places where the shots are normally available are running low.

Workers for chain pharmacies say recent news coverage on the flu has driven customers to their businesses, and now they are facing short-term shortages of vaccine.

We called individual Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid locations in the Grand Rapids area, and pharmacy employees report their supplies are gone.  They say the last few days have been extremely hectic.

Walgreens district spokesman Ben Bringedahl says most of his company's locations in the Grand Rapids area should have a new supply by Monday.  He says stores are moving some vaccines around to the locations that have none left.

A CVS pharmacy worker says their supply won't be in until Wednesday.

Rite Aid spokeswoman Susan Henderson says the chain's locations in the West Michigan area have supplies of shots, though WZZM 13 News contacted individual stores where workers reported they were out.

Bringedahl, as well as the workers at the other pharmacies, urge people to call ahead and check if influenza shots or mists are available before they come in.

Drug manufactures deliver the flu vaccine to health departments, hospitals and clinics first.  Retail locations are a lower priority than the other medical outlets.

Representatives for county health departments say they have sufficient supplies of vaccine, and encourage individuals to contact their primary health care provider to set up appointment for a flu shot or nasal mist.

People who go to pharmacies for flu vaccinations may have to pay a fee for the shot or mist.  If they have health insurance through an employer or the government, the shot may be free if they go to their doctor.

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