Some Say the Flu Vaccine Is Hard to Find

CDC officials say the vaccine is available; people just need to look for it.

Some parts of the country are experiencing spot shortages of flu vaccine because of increased demand in a flu season that started earlier and is more severe than previous years.

In Las Vegas, Celeste Tom tried six times before she found a flu shot for her boyfriend.

"I'd been bugging him to get a flu shot, but he kept putting it off," said Tom, 55. The Smith's Food and Drug Center where she got her shot was out. Her partner called his doctor's office, but they were out, too. Next she tried a Walgreens and then a CVS pharmacy; no vaccine. She called another Smith's, but it would administer vaccine only to people over 65. On Monday, she found a Walgreens that had 10 doses left. "I called back when he got off work at 1 p.m. to make sure they still had some, and he finally went in."

"The bottom line is there's vaccine out there," said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "There may be places where there are spot shortages, but there should be a little bit more coming, so people may have to check around for it."

It took Pam Copley a full day. The Staten Island, N.Y., mom, 42, tried her pediatrician, but the office had no appointments until February. She and daughter Colleen, 15, got in line at a CVS, only to have the nurse come and and say she didn't have shots for anyone under 18. After "a bunch of phone calls," Copley found vaccine at an urgent-care clinic. They had to wait there for five hours, but it was worth it, she said. "There's lots of flu in the schools here right now.

U.S. flu vaccine manufacturers have increased the number of doses they expect to produce this year to 145 million from previous estimates of 137 million, Skinner said. About 128 million doses have been shipped, and the "vast majority" of those have been used, he said. "We had 112 million people vaccinated by the end of November."

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Elizabeth Weise
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