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Some Ozarks Pharmacies Struggle to Keep Up with Flu Vaccine Demand

Vaccination Shot
Photo credit: Marrie Yvonne Ochieng

As of Tuesday, Jan. 8, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department had reported nearly 400 confirmed cases of the flu in the county alone. The demand for the flu vaccine has been so high that some local pharmacies are struggling to keep it in stock. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.

 

Steve McClanahan works at the Hines Street Pharmacy in Republic. The demand for the vaccine, he says, has spiked in the last week at all pharmacies in and around Republic.

“We try to stay in touch with one other as best we can to determine who may or may not have the supply in at that particular time. I’ve already been through my initial supply and have been waiting for the last week and a half for my wholesaler to deliver more. Supposedly, I’m getting more tomorrow.”

McClanahan says his pharmacy has been sending patients to other pharmacies until his new stock arrives. One supplier, George’s Pharmacy in Springfield, still has the vaccine in stock. Greg Serochi has worked there as a pharmacist for about eight months. In one day, Serochi says his pharmacy supplied three times the amount of vaccinations from the previous day.

“It really has not been much of an impact here until last Thursday. We did ten on Wednesday, Thursday we did 32, 40 on Friday and then we did 20 plus on Saturday. It really started picking up on Thursday.”  

He says he thinks part of the high demand came after news reports about the flu, including a few fatalities as a result of the flu in nearby states.

McClanahan says despite the influx of new patients this week, some locals are still reluctant to get the vaccine.

“I know the people that I work with, only half of them have received their flu shots because the other half are deathly afraid of a needle and refuse. They’re playing a fifty-fifty game whether they acquire a flu bug or not.”

He says other reasons for not wanting the vaccine include lack of information about the illness, or fear of its side effects. And, he says, there are things all of us should be doing.

“Always wash your hands. Grab a bottle of Purrell, or hand sanitizer type stuff. Rub it on every chance that you get. I know it’s kind of drying, especially in the winter months, but do it anyway. An ounce of prevention is going to be worth more than a pound of cure in the later.”

His last tip? If you’re sick, please stay home out of courtesy for others.  Don’t go out because these germs spread quickly.

It takes about two weeks after being vaccinated for the immune system to best combat the seasonal flu, according to the health department.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.