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Flu shots in short supply as pharmacies run out

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 14 2013 10:38:01 PM MST
Flu shot vaccine
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Bozeman-area pharmacies tell us they're completely out of flu vaccines, and don't expect to replenish their supplies. Experts are calling it the worst flu season in years, with widespread flu in nearly every state, including Montana.

Many folks flocked to pharmacies to get vaccinated, cleaning out the supply. On Monday, NBC Montana called CVS, Costco, Albertson's, Smith's and many more- and found nearly everyone is completely out of stock.

Health officials at the Gallatin City-County Health Department told us the demand spiked after the increase in flu cases this season.

They said that caused vaccine manufacturers to nearly run out of supply, so they're only sending out a limited number of doses.

Places like Costco and Osco pharmacy in Albertson's told us they had 30 vaccine doses last Friday, and within hours, those were gone.

And everyone else we talked to told us they used the last of their supply over the weekend, too.

NBC Montana talked to local folks outside of the CVS pharmacy Monday night. A few told us they got vaccinated, and glad they did before the supply ran out.

"My husband and I go to urgent care and get ours in October so that we've got one, and we don't have to worry about somebody being out" said Karoline Martinez.

Bozeman resident Kyle Luraas said he just got vaccinated recently. "I work at the hospital so I got mine for free" he said.

But MSU student Darren Blackwolf said he didn't get a flu shot this year- but he's not too worried.

"For me it's not a big deal" he said. "But for my grandparents back home- yeah, I'm kind of like- oh, I hope they got their flu shots."

The Gallatin City-County Health Department does still have vaccines, and Costco and Osco said they'll receive more doses in the next two days. But other pharmacies told us they're done for the season.

Health officials said the vaccine or nasal mist are the best ways to protect against influenza.

The health department tells us in the last few months, there have been 238 confirmed and suspected cases in the Gallatin County.

Statewide, that number is 1,864 confirmed and suspected cases. 68 people have been hospitalized, and Montana's seen 4 deaths from influenza this season.