Seventy-one million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed across the country, but at least one Iowa hospital has started rationing its flu shots. All of the flu vaccine that’s used in the U.S. comes from two manufacturers and last Thursday one of those companies sent Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids a notice that the company would again fall short of filling its U.S. orders.
The hospital did order the flu vaccine from the other manufacturer, but hospital officials expect they’ll only have 60 percent of the flu shot supply they’d anticipated. Diane Reist is the hospital’s pharmacy director. “We have already started a prioritization which is very similar to what we’ve done the last couple of years when we’ve had a shortage,” Reist says.
Reist says they want to make sure high risk patients and the people who care for patients are vaccinated.
Iowa Department of Public Health spokesman, Kevin Teale, says state officials know of no other hospital that’s rationing flu shots, but they are hearing of shortages. “There still are shipments coming, but we have told physicians across Iowa to go ahead and give the flu vaccine to as many people as possible,” Teale says.
Teale says you “may to call around a bit” to find a clinic or hospital that has the flu vaccine, but there should be vaccine out there, according to Teale.