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Posted on Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Flu season: Vaccine in limited supply at Ann Arbor pharmacies; shipments expected next week

By Amy Biolchini

If you’re looking to get a flu vaccine over the weekend at an area pharmacy, you may be out of luck.

Many pharmacies in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti report they've run out of doses of the standard flu vaccine issued this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but expect limited shipments of 50 to 100 vaccines to be delivered at some point next week.

Health care providers, however, report their flu vaccine stocks are in good standing.


Flu vaccines are in limited supply at area pharmacies, though many health care providers still have shots available. file photo

However, the high-dose flu vaccine intended for individuals aged 65 and older are still available. Flu shots range in price from $25 to $30 at area pharmacies. The high-dose vaccine is about $10 more.

Patients are advised to call their pharmacy beforehand to see if the vaccine is in stock. Some pharmacies have started waiting lists.

The University of Michigan’s University Health Service has administered 1,800 vaccinations since Oct. 1 to U-M students, faculty, staff and their dependents, and has 1,000 doses remaining, said director Dr. Robert Winfield.

U-M is posting information about the flu season in residence halls, but is not hosting mass vaccination events for its students, Winfield said.

Flu shots are $42 through UHS and are available by appointment only by calling 734-764-8325. The health service is adding nurses to be able to provide more vaccine appointments, Winfield said.

U-M has not seen an uptick in flu cases amongst its students, Winfield said, but said there are flu cases on campus.

Packard Health has flu shots available for patients on a walk-in basis between 1 and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System is hosting several walk-in vaccination clinics for veterans.

Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon veterans can receive free flu shots at the VA Ann Arbor Medical Center at 2215 Fuller Road in Ann Arbor. Veterans who are not registered in the VA Healthcare system should bring their DD-214 discharge papers.

Additional clinics for veterans at the medical center will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.

Washtenaw County Public Health has filled most of its flu clinic appointment slots for next week, said Laura Bauman, epidemiologist for the department.

To schedule an appointment to receive a $20 flu shot at the county’s clinic, call (734) 544-6700. Public Health does not offer the high-dosage vaccine intended for seniors.

The health department reports about 150 confirmed cases of flu in the county to date, with reports continuing to come in.

It’s not too late in the season to get vaccinated, Bauman said, as the flu season has likely not peaked yet. Even after the season’s peak, the flu can still circulate for an additional six weeks.

Two different strains of flu are circulating -- Type A and Type B, and the vaccine contains both. Should a person not receive a flu vaccine, they’re at risk for contracting the flu twice, Bauman said.

The vaccine takes two weeks to work, Bauman said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the vaccine has shown to be 62 percent effective in preventing the flu this year.

“The vaccine is designed to not only help that individual get vaccinated, it helps overall in the community in that fewer people are contagious and shedding the virus,” Bauman said. “It’s a good, but not great vaccine.”

Researchers are looking for ways to improve the flu vaccine, including making one that lasts longer than one year, Bauman said.

Has finding a place to get a flu shot been difficult this year for you? Let me know in the comments section below.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Why do people wait for a crisis before they act. Shots months ago may well have prevented such an epidemic.

Tom Todd

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Have not felt the Same since I the 2012 shot will never get one in the future.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:50 a.m.

Pharmacies began receiving this season's flu vaccine in August 2012. I have been advising people that there is no such thing as getting the flu shot too early. Keep in mind that it takes the body about 14 days to stimulate an immunological response to the vaccine. While the flu vaccine cannot guarantee protection from the flu, it is an important tool in helping prevent complications in people at higher risk, such as those with diabetes, hypertension and COPD.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 11 p.m.

Unfortunate, but you're supposed to get the shot in October. ..

say it plain

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

That's what I always wonder about when they push the shots at this point in the season.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

I heard the Chicken Soup at Zingerman's cures the flu.

Jake C

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

Sorry, "say it plain", statistics don't work that way. A 62% effectiveness rate in preventing the flu really has nothing in common with saying a coin has a 50% chance of coming up heads. A 0% effectiveness rate means a treatment does nothing, either good or bad. A negative effectiveness means a treatment actually makes things worse. And even a 10% effectiveness rate means you are 10% less likely to need to visit a doctor than someone who hasn't been vaccinated. A 100% effectiveness rate would be ideal, but even 62% is pretty good.

Jake C

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Yep that's lot closer to what "effectiveness" means. It's probably still not exactly accurate, because you try to control for things like age and other risk factors. Someone who specializes in Statistics could probably explain better (see: ) So out of a group of 100 sick people who show up to the hospital with flu-like symptoms, it's more like 20 vaccinated people showed up at the hospital with flu-like symptoms and 80 unvaccinated people did. However the 62% effectiness rate takes into account the fact that vaccination rates tend to be higher among high-risk populations (the elderly, very young, the chronically ill, etc) they're more at-risk for contracting the flu even with the vaccine, whereas healthy young adults are more likely to go unvaccinated. Many times these unvaccinated people actually do contract the flu, but because they're otherwise healthy they just present minor symptoms. As you mentioned, the problem comes from these otherwise functionally healthy people who are spreading flu germs from coughs & sneezes even though they don't feel "really sick". This increases the risk of the high-risk groups of contracting the flu. So if we had a 100% flu vaccination rate, we might be able to improve the overall effectiveness of vaccines, reduce our healthcare costs, and save lives.

say it plain

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Or, that of the 150 confirmed cases of flu this year in the county, about 57 people had the vaccine? And that's in addition to "influenza-like illnesses" vaccinated people are still subject to? I think it's not surprising then that the public-health officials point out that vaccination is also about 'community'-level management of the germ pool, and not just about conferring protection to individuals.

say it plain

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Oh, sorry, didn't realize "effectiveness rates" worked that way, my bad! so, the rate is determined surveying the people who actually do go in to see a doctor for the flu, and noting how many of them got the vaccine versus how many did not, yes? And then it's relative odds, right? So, if say 10 in 100 people get the flu without having the vaccine, then a 60% effectiveness rate means 4 in 100 people get the flu who had the vaccine? And that's of people who actually are symptomatic enough to see a doctor, right? Sorry, I'm bad with these stats issues...

say it plain

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

Thanks for including data/comments on the effectiveness this year! I think they've made a lousy argument for getting the shot this time around with the just-over-chance levels of prevention the vaccine is providing.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

I hope you don't become a statistic!