Now, in response to “unanticipated late-season demand,” Sanofi said it will make available a limited supply of additional vaccine originally intended for shipment outside the country. Those orders would start shipping in late January, spokesman Michael Szumera said.
Another supplier, MedImmune, has sold all 12 million doses that it planned to distribute but has more than 620,000 extra doses, a spokeswoman said.
Manufacturers are not able to make any more vaccine for this season — the process is too long and complicated, and they are already preparing for next year. “You have to have the right kind of egg from the right kind of chicken, then grow the virus and purify it,” said Carolyn Bridges, associate director for adult immunization at the immunization services division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a frantic search for vaccine, many consumers in the D.C. region Thursday swapped tips, scoured Web sites and badgered pharmacists and doctors. A pediatric practice in North Bethesda directed patients to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and an urgent-care facility in Bethesda.
Public health officials urged residents to use flushot.
healthmap.org, an online flu vaccine locater, to find a provider.
Among the vaccine hunters was Emily Dillon, 22, a resident of Northwest Washington who works for a nonprofit organization downtown and has been trying to get a flu shot since Sunday.
First she tried two CVS stores, one in Bethesda and one in Rockville, but they had no vaccine. Then her mother started looking on her behalf and found out the Safeway in Columbia Heights was receiving a shipment Thursday. But the store wasn’t taking appointments, Dillon said, and she wasn’t able to go after work.
“I have yet to get one,” she said. “But I’m going to keep plugging away.”
Some, like Dillon, were enlisting family members and friends in the vaccine quest because of long telephone wait times and inaccurate information posted in stores and online. Others were finding it hard to get work done because so many people are out sick.
Even though this season’s vaccine is well-matched to the predominant strain of virus circulating, at least 29 states were experiencing high levels of influenza-like illness as of Dec. 29, according to the latest data compiled by the CDC. Officials in Boston declared a public health emergency. Eighteen Massachusetts residents have died of flu-related complications this season, a state official said, and some hospitals in the state are changing their visiting policies to limit potential exposure to flu-causing viruses.