Indiana may see surge in flu vaccine demand

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This winter Hoosiers could face a double virus threat: influenza and COVID-19. 

Health experts expect more people will get a flu shot this year than in years prior, but this may put a strain on supplies.

News 8 spoke with Dr. John Christenson, medical director of infection prevention at Riley Children’s Health, about the possibility of a shortage. He said it all comes down to preparation. 

“Because of COVID-19, many of the pharmaceutical companies have done a very good job in producing more vaccines this year than in previous years,” Christenson said. “But the challenge is health centers have to put their orders into pharmaceutical companies early enough in the season so they get supplies on time.”

IU Health is expecting more than 200,000 doses of the influenza vaccine. But other clinics in Indiana fall short and are already out of stock, specifically when it comes to the infant vaccine. 

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A CVS in Fishers, for example, was out of pediatric flu shots earlier this week. 

“Our clinics in the Indianapolis area may experience temporary shortages of the pediatric dose of flu vaccine due to high demand. We are working with our suppliers on this issue,” a CVS spokesperson told News 8.

The clinic has since been restocked. 

Hoosiers must also do their part, Christenson says. People can help themselves and clinics by scheduling appointments in advance rather than walking in should they choose to get vaccinated. This saves an extra trip because the location may be waiting on its next shipment.

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 5 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Instagram @reportergillis and Facebook @DrMaryGillis.