RALEIGH, N.C. — County health departments are getting 70,000 doses of flu vaccine in the next two weeks, easing a shortage caused when shipments were blocked from one of two vaccine manufacturers.
Dr. James Kirkpatrick of the North Carolina office of public health preparedness and response, says the new vaccine shipment is part of an Aventis order already in process, and it's not from doses that have been held back.
New doses will be distributed to North Carolina counties based on estimates of high-risk populations and existing vaccine supplies.
On Wednesday, the North Carolina attorney general warned of price gouging for flu shots. Although North Carolina has not experienced any overpriced flu shots, other states and the Centers for Disease Control have received reports of possible price gouging of flu vaccines by either distributors or providers of the vaccine.
For example, the state of Kansas this week filed suit against Florida-based Meds-Stat, alleging that the company proposed to deliver and sell five doses of flu vaccine to a Kansas City pharmacy for $900 with the knowledge that the vaccine was to be used in a nursing home. On Oct. 1, the price for the five doses was listed at $85.
Consumers or retailers who suspect they are being overcharged for flu vaccine are encouraged to report it to Attorney General Roy Cooper's office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within the state. Outside the state, the number is 919-716-6000.
Aventis Pasteur is supplying most of the doses ordered for North Carolina. But at the request of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aventis has held back 22 million doses that had not yet been shipped.
The state Department of Health and Human Services ordered about 300,000 doses from Aventis, and has received about 147,000 doses. County health departments made separate purchases.