Flu Shot Shortage

For the second year in a row there's a flu shot scare in the Tri-State. And this one may be worse, because it's taking health care providers by surprise.

Summit Medical Group, one of the area's largest primary care providers, ordered enough flu vaccines to get through flu season back in February. But so far, about half of the vials have been delivered.

"We do not even have enough to cover our high risk patients," Donna Dieman with Summit says.

Just days ago, she thought they did. Family doctors in the group were giving shots to any patient who needed them. Then, one drug company told Summit it was going to stop delivering the vaccines. Another company, Chiron Corp, told them all future deliveries would be delayed.

That sent Summit scrambling.

"We found one manufacturer who we had heard had some available and literally begged them to send us some," Dieman says. The company sent enough for 100 shots.

"But right now we have some offices that are at 40% of covering their patient doses," Dieman says. "So 100 more patients doesn't even put a dent in what needs to be shipped out."

Alliance Primary Care, another major provider, says it's having the same issues with Chiron. The company has told them there are delivery problems, but all the vaccines will arrive between now and December. Some providers doubt that prediction, because of Chiron's past. Last year, the company was responsible for a nationwide shortage after concerns that some of it's vials were contaminated.

The Hamilton County Health Department says as long as the vaccines come by the end of the year, the delay should not make a difference. A representative says the flu season doesn't start until January, so it won't be too late.