CARY, N.C. — Flu shots are a rare commodity these days. Workplaces are canceling annual flu shot clinics. Many doctor's offices have a limited supply and are having a hard time ordering more. When you do find a place that offers flu shots, get ready to stand in line.
People lined up for flu shots at Ashworth Drugs in Cary as early as 6:30 a.m. Tuesday for a 10 a.m. clinic.
"I have had cancer, so I need the shot, so I got up early enough to come down and get it like a lot of other people," said Marie Harrison.
Jack Hunter thought he was early and snagged ticket No. 195 out of 200 tickets.
"No one seems to be trying to push ahead of anyone. They're acting very civilized," he said.
Even the ones beyond the No. 200 mark were waiting patiently in the parking lot.
"These people who don't have tickets are hoping there will be some people who don't qualify, so they can get a ticket, so they are backed up," drug store owner Ralph Ashworth said.
There is a new plan to help ease the flu shot shortage. It would get what is left of the country's available vaccines to those who need them most.
Aventis Pasteur has agreed to ship its remaining 22.4 million doses to health workers. The shipments will go directly to hospitals, nursing homes, pediatricians and other places that care for high-risk patients. The first round of shipments will contain about 14 million doses.
The announcement of more flu shots means those left out on Tuesday should get a shot in the future if they are deemed at-risk. Most counties have specific guidelines for who will get the available vaccinations, including children 6 to 23 months, people older than 65, pregnant women and caregivers that have contact with the young or the elderly.
Ashworth Drugstore is planning a repeat performance at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Once again, it will have 200 flu vaccines on hand. Ashworth is asking people to wait until after noon to start lining up.
In many counties, flu shot supplies are running out. In Durham County, there are just over 300 shots left. There are 720 doses left in Orange County, but those are already spoken for by people who have made appointments. Cumberland County is completely out of flu vaccine.