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Flu Shot Demand Leads To ‘Waiting Lists’ At Metro Pharmacies

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - Families still looking to get flu shots may be finding them difficult to come by.

Many retail pharmacies and drug stores are having a hard time keeping the flu vaccine in stock. Some Cub pharmacies have even had to create waiting lists while they wait for more to come in.

As the owner of St. Paul Corner Drug, John Hoeschen’s job is to get people what they need. But there’s one remedy he just can’t keep in stock – the flu shot.

“We’ve probably done twice as many vaccines this year as we did last year,” Hoeschen said. “We ran out and I got some more in last week and that’s all gone. And ran out Friday night so we didn’t have enough to get through the weekend even.”

Until his next shipment comes in on Thursday, he’s had to create a waiting list. Doug Schultz from the Minnesota Department of Health says vaccine stocking policies are based on past supply numbers.

“They order so much based on what they know they’ve vaccinated over past years. When they run out, they don’t provide it anymore because they’re maybe concerned that if they order more vaccine, then they’ll get stuck holding it,” Schultz said.

But during an unusual flu season, Schultz is encouraging pediatricians to order more. The problem is at some pharmacies that have the vaccine in stock – not everyone can get it.

At retail pharmacies, age matters. St. Paul Corner Drug will vaccinate anyone 19 and older.

It’s the same at Target pharmacies. A spokesman said 19 is the youngest you can be to get a flu shot because of Minnesota’s Vaccines for Children Program. At Cub pharmacies, it’s age 10 and older.

Health officials say that during a year of high demand and high hospitalization, the more health care providers on board, the better.

“I think on Friday we did probably 30. So it’s just bigger numbers per day and just bigger numbers in general,” Hoeschen said.

Doug Schultz told WCCO that even while some pharmacies wait for new shipments to come in, there is not a shortage of flu vaccines.

To access the Minnesota Department of Health’s Flu Shot Locator, click here.

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