High-dose flu vaccine in short supply in some places

Flu shot
Stacy Fox of Maplewood, left, receives a seasonal influenza vaccine from Karen Schirmer at the HealthPartners Midway Clinic in St. Paul in 2009.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2009

Some health care providers say they have run out of high-dose flu vaccine, but the regular vaccine is available and should be sufficient for most people.

Jennifer Heath, a supervisor in the vaccine preventable health section of the Minnesota Department of Health, said what's going on is more of a supply-chain interruption than a shortage. 

"Folks have been calling in and asking about if there is a shortage and where they might be able to get this vaccine,” Heath said. 

Such supply chain interruptions are common, Heath said, and likely being aggravated by increased demand for flu vaccinations. 

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“We know that people are going out to get their vaccines earlier this year and that is wonderful, but I think that's why we're seeing a lot more attention and maybe even some anxiety around not being able to get the exact thing you want to get right now," Heath said. 

Older adults should get the regular vaccine if the high-dose vaccine is not available, Heath said, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend one over the other. 

“So it's totally fine to get the regular dose and that might be necessary because folks aren't going out as much and you might not have the luxury this year of going out several times to look for a flu vaccine,” Heath said.

HealthPartners says it’s been out of the high-dose vaccine for the past 10 days, but now has them available again, according to senior medical director of primary care Beth Averbeck. 

“We anticipate another shipment coming in mid-October as well,” Averbeck said.

Whether HealthPartners runs low again, Averbeck said, will be a matter of supply and demand

“Right now we feel pretty confident with the supply that we have,” Averbeck said. “It will depend on if the demand is greater than what we’ve seen.”