ROCKINGHAM — If you think you’ll just drop in at your local drugstore to get a flu shot, think again. Area pharmacies are running low on doses even as news of deadly flu attacks puts the scare into North Carolinians.
At 2:30 Monday afternoon, Medical Center Pharmacy on South Long Drive had eight inoculations left and planned to dispense them first come, first served. Birmingham Drug in Hamlet had two lower- and two high-dose vaccines.
“It’s pretty late in the season at the moment” to decide you want a flu shot, said Clayton Ford, pharmacist at Rite Aid on South Long Drive. “That’s why people are running out.”
Ford said that all his pharmacy had left were the stronger doses, intended for those older than 65, who can suffer more severe complications if they contract the illness. The same held true at Walgreen’s on East Broad Avenue.
He advocated that those who intended to visit a pharmacy to call ahead to make sure doses remained available.
But Dr. Tommy Jarrell said the Richmond County Health Department still had about 50 doses — intended for anyone older than 36 months. The department stocked no high-dose vaccines this year, he said; it did so last year and had no demand.
The Health Department, at 127 Caroline St., will administer flu vaccines 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8-11 a.m. Fridays. To make an appointment, call 910-997-8300.
But don’t dilly-dally.
“From what we’re hearing, the general supply is drying up,” Jarrell said — which means pharmacies and health departments won’t be able to restock when supplies run out.
Wherever you take them, flu shots are not free, although insurance may cover some to all of the $30-plus cost. If you find a place they are administered, be sure to take along your insurance card and enough cash to cover a deductible.
State health officials reported last week that 67 North Carolinans had died from the flu this season, including more than 20 the previous week.
According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 42 of those deaths were of residents ages 65 and older, 18 victims were between 50 to 64, and four were from 25 to 49. The remaining three were listed as pediatric deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]