Being 72 and a believer in vaccines (everybody should be, since they work), every October I've been heading off to Walgreens on south Liberty to get my annual high dose flu shot.
(Since us old folks have weaker immune systems, a high dose flu shot offers more protection, though a regular flu shot is better than nothing, for sure.)
That's what I did last Tuesday, only to be met with a sign on the pharmacy window saying that they didn't have any high dose vaccine. Which was the same sign I saw last week.
So I decided to check with the south Commercial Walgreens. There I was told that they had high dose vaccine, but no needles/syringes. Maybe the needles would be available next week, I was told.
Next stop was the Fred Meyer pharmacy on Commercial. The word there was they'd run out of high dose flu vaccine that day. More might come in next week.
When I got home, I did two things. I phoned my Salem Health family physician's office. They told me that they didn't have any high dose vaccine, but would put me on a waiting list. (The next day I got a call telling me I could make an appointment for October 23 to get the shot.)
I also made an online appointment for 2:45 pm today with the Costco pharmacy.
Last year, I think it was, Costco had bailed us out when my wife and I had gotten the first Shingrix shingles shot, but couldn't find any place with the second shot. Even though we hadn't gotten the first shot at the Costco pharmacy, they told us that they reserved some vaccine for people like us who'd had the first shot.
Talking with the pharmacist at Costco who gave me the high dose shot, he said they had run out several times recently, and were going to run out again today. But when someone has an appointment, they put aside the vaccine. Which was good news for my wife, since she had an appointment for 4 pm today.
Something is different this year, since I haven't had a problem getting a high dose shot since I turned 65 seven years ago.
The covid crisis must be the main reason there's more demand than usual for the high dose vaccine. Also, the Costco pharmacist said the demand for flu shots started early this year, since the wildfire smoke we were inhaling led to recommendations to get a flu shot, apparently because lungs already were being impaired somewhat by the smoke.
My theory, which I shared with the pharmacist, is that with all the debate about whether Covid is more deadly than the flu (it is, despite what Trump claims), maybe seniors are seeing the figures about how many people die from the flu each year -- 12,000 to 61,000 since 2010 -- and more fully realize now how important it is to get a flu shot.
Google News has numerous stories about shortages around the country of the high dose flu vaccine, so this is a real thing. See here, here, and here. Fortunately, any shortages likely will be temporary.
But since it is impossible to know when the flu season will start in earnest, the wise thing to do is get a flu shot as soon as possible, especially if you're in a high risk group, such as being over 65.