Shortages of flu vaccine, medication reported across North Texas

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 6:28 PM

DALLAS -- Eight-year-old Lauren is among the crowd for a flu shot at the CVS Minute Clinic on Preston Road in Dallas. Convenience is only part of the reason why.

"I called her pediatrician yesterday," said Rhonda Chaney, Lauren's mother. "They said they were out of them."

Shortages of flu vaccine are now being reported across North Texas.

"We've ordered additional children's vaccine," said Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson.

Thompson is particularly worried about access for the poor, who can't afford the $15-to-$30 the vaccine costs at many locations.  Dallas County Health and Human Services had about 200 doses for adults left Friday.

"That's why we're ordering a thousand doses," Thompson said. "We want to make sure those who are uninsured that they have the ability to get flu vaccine."

Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin County health departments all have limited amounts of flu vaccine. The health departments also accept Medicaid.

Many chain pharmacies and grocery stores do not accept Medicaid, but do accept insurance. Patients are being encouraged to call in advance to determine coverage, prices, and availability.

Because of a spike in flu cases, some area pharmacies have run of Tamiflu, the virus-fighting prescription medication that can lessen the duration of the sickness if it's taken within the first 36 hours. Doses for children are running particularly low.

"We are having a shortage from the pharmacies, as far as the liquid [goes]," said CVS Minute Clinic nurse practitioner Doris Harvey-Boston. "So we're sending it to companies that compound the product."

Health experts say when it comes to medicine or vaccine, people need to call in advance to determine availability. The Minute Clinic on Preston Road ran out of the nasal flu-mist version, which is what Lauren would have preferred.

But when faced with getting the flu, or the available shot, even an eight year old says the choice is easy.

"The flu shot," Lauren said.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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