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Flu Shots Hard To Find In Bay Area Amid Concerns Of Possible Severe Flu Season

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- The flu season is here, but the vaccine to protect you may be difficult to find as the demand surges.

One Bay Area family told KPIX 5 they were turned away from a pharmacy because of supply issues despite having appointments.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned temporary shortages of the flu vaccine could occur between shipments of supplies, such as syringes and needles, as the demand increases.

KPIX 5 conducted a quick search online on Wednesday, including trying to make an appointment at a CVS pharmacy for the flu vaccine in Berkeley. The site, however, said that it was "adding more appointments" and to "check back later."

In San Jose, the earliest Rite-Aid flu shot is nearly two weeks out. At CVS in San Jose, only three out of two dozen appointments closest to the area code 95126 are scheduling appointments in the next couple of weeks.

This comes as health experts warn the flu season this year will be severe, and some believe the COVID-19 pandemic is to blame.

"The levels of antibodies in the entire population have gotten lower than usual, so that means we have less immunity going around. If the virus circulated again, more people could get sicker," said Stanford University epidemiologist Dr. Jorge Salinas. "But also because our population is getting tired of some of the measures. Last year was a success when it came to influenza, because we were wearing masks."

Health experts are also advising that the population get inoculated for the flu to lessen the impact on hospital beds and intensive care units as the country continues to deal with COVID-19.

Rob Heil got his COVID-19, booster and flu vaccines last month before supply issues began popping-up.

"I'm all loaded up, yeah," Heil told KPIX 5. "I just signed up with my health group and did a drive-thru clinic, no big deal. With the pandemic and such, everybody wearing masks, flu and cold kind of disappeared for a bit. But that doesn't mean it's not out there."

Marilyn Duran also received her flu vaccine last month when she heard the CDC recommended that people get it before the end of October.

She said she feels lucky she received her flu vaccine before the rush.

"I'd say go get it, as soon as possible," Duran told KPIX 5.


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