Georgia is the latest state to experience a high-dose flu vaccine supply shortage as demand rises during the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout the state, the supply for the high-dose flu vaccine, a four-ingredient or “quadrivalent” flu vaccine, that is recommended for those 65 years and older — is “spotty,” Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, told the Atlanta Journal-Consitution. She said the North Georgia Health District located in Dalton is waiting for more doses and the Gwinnett and Cobb County health departments have “extremely limited supplies.”
"We’re hearing some places (smaller providers, for example) have run out of high-dose vaccine completely, with no additional shipments on the way," Nydam told FOX Business. "Other providers, like health departments and CVS, Walgreens, etc., who order hundreds of thousands of doses may be out temporarily, waiting on additional shipments."
Nydam added that the Department of Health has been told that "when we get all the vaccine we pre-ordered, it’s done, the manufacturers are not making more."
Georgia is not the only state to have a shortage of high-dose flu vaccines this year. In September, some areas in New York, Massachusetts and Minnesota were also having trouble keeping up with demand, according to local reports.
But supplies are low in several parts of Georgia. A doctor in Gainseville told the AJC that his practice is out of the high-dose vaccine. Though there is another shipment on the way.
“Once we get it, it will be gone within hours,” Dr. Andrew Reisman, who is also the president of the Medical Association of Georgia, told the newspaper.
He doesn’t expect to be able to get more once a shipment of roughly 50 doses runs dry. Each year, Georgia orders between 400,000 and 500,000 flu vaccines, which are subsequently distributed across district health departments. This year, as flu season coincides with the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., officials ordered about 200,000 more vaccines.
“Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers,” according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website.
Vaccine manufacturers “have projected that they will supply as many as 194 to 198 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2020-2021 season,” according to the CDC.
But supply is expected to catch up with demand, according to the CDC.
“In some places, robust demand for vaccine and supplies required to support flu vaccination efforts, like needles or syringes, may mean that some providers run out of vaccine or other supplies before their next shipment has arrived," according to the CDC website.
But the system is designed to provide suppliers with continuous shipments throughout the flu season and a record number of flu vaccinations are being produced this year, according to the CDC.
"While an allocation system can initially limit the size of individual orders, as supplies become available in increasing numbers, supply is expected to catch up with demand,” Georgia is not the only state to see a shortage of high-dose flu vaccines this year. In September, some areas in New York, Massachusetts and Minnesota were also having trouble keeping up with demand, according to local reports.