Doctors warn of delayed vaccine shipments ahead of flu season

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TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Only time will tell if the 2019-2020 flu season was as long as last year’s, which was the lengthiest flu season in a decade, according to the CDC.

However, doctors are now warning patients of a shorter time frame in which to get vaccinated for influenza this year, due to a backlog in flu shot production and shipment.

Every year, Dr. Martha Price gets 500 flu shots shipped to her South Tampa family practice. This year, that shipment has been pushed back by three to four weeks, precariously close to the start of flu season.

“The vaccine typically arrives in my office late August, we start administrating it in September,” Price explained. “We’ll have to do more vaccines in a shorter period of time.”

Earlier this month, Price and countless physicians nationwide learned that flu shot manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur was behind in production due to a delay in guidance from the World Health Organization and the FDA. That delay is in response to a late-emerging strain, A/H3N2, seen during last flu season.

The good news? This year’s flu shot should be more effective.

The bad news? A much shorter window to get the shot before the emergence of flu season, especially considering a flu shot doesn’t become effective until two weeks after it’s adminstered.

The notice sent regarding Sanofi Pasteur’s delay mentions that other vaccine manufacturers are likely facing the same issue.

“Typically when drug retailers tell us there’s going to be a 3-4 week delay, that sometimes gets pushed even further, and that’s my biggest concern,” Price said. “I’ve seen flu as late as June and as early as August.”

Price urges patients to not let a delay deter them altogether.

“We will get the flu vaccine,” she said. “Just make sure YOU get the flu vaccine!”

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