Flu vaccine in short supply on Whidbey Island

Seasonal flu vaccine-seekers are hard pressed to track down a pharmacy in Island County that offers the inoculations.

Dr. Roger Case, health officer with the Island County Health Department, encourages people in the high-risk category — especially seniors — to go off-island if necessary to ensure they receive the vaccination.

“We’ve only received two-thirds the amount of seasonal flu vaccine that we expected to get by now,” he said. “I don’t expect for it to be available again in the county until mid-December.”

While public health clinics are short of vaccine, Pediatrics Associates of Whidbey on Cabot Drive in Oak Harbor has enough to last through the end of the month, according to Debbie Lacy, RN. This supply, however, is restricted to children.

“Island County still has a very limited stock when considering the whole community,” Lacy said.

Both Island Drug and Walgreens pharmacies are currently out of the seasonal flu vaccine.

Walgreens will probably not receive any more shipments this year, according to their lead pharmacist, who asked not to be named.

Aaron Syring, owner of Island Drug, said he’s received word that his next shipment is due in mid-November.

“The suppliers are at the mercy of the vaccine makers,” he said.

When the vaccine arrives, it’ll be available “every hour, every day,” that Island Drug is open, Syring said. “No appointments necessary.”

Island Drug will also offer the H1N1 swine flu vaccine as soon as they receive their first shipment, which is expected in the next couple of weeks, he said.

The injectable H1N1 vaccine is currently available at La Conner Drug, also owned by Syring. The doses are restricted to those in the priority-level category, set by the Center for Disease Control.

Pediatrics Associates of Whidbey has been inoculating its patients against H1N1 for the last three weeks, according to Lacy, but again, those doses are restricted to children, she said.

The H1N1 vaccine is arriving in 100-dose shipments, she said, and they’re likely to run out again soon, although she hopes to receive another shipment by Wednesday afternoon.

“What’s really tough is that you can’t schedule clinics in advance,” she said. “It’s really hard when you don’t know what you’re getting when.”

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