Friday, November 10, 2017

What happened with your flu shot supply?

     You may be asking yourself this question: what happened with Hilliard Pediatrics flu shot supply?
     I will answer that. But some background. We order the vaccine from a supplier. Most offices place their order in February to receive the vaccine in August to September. How do we determine how much we order? We look at previous years supply and use and make an educated guess. The year that FluMist went off the market, we dramatically increased our flu shot order to have enough vaccine for those who had received the flu shot and those who received the FluMist in the past.
     We have about 10,000 patients. If we gave each of the infants two doses and all the older children 1 dose a year, we would go through more than 10,000 doses a year. We do not use that many. We realize some families do not vaccinate their children with the flu vaccine routinely. Other patients receive the vaccine in other places.
     Last year, it was the second year without the FluMist. We felt like the demand in the office was steady but not high. By the end of January, we ran out of our supply and most of the families seeking the vaccine from our office received it here. Typically we run out of the vaccine between late November and early January.
     This past Winter, we placed our current order for the same number of flu shots as last year. Although we added a new doctor, our total number of patients has not changed much. We received the vaccine in August (earlier than some years) and then began vaccinating our patients. As usual, we were giving the vaccine in the office and check-ups and (were appropriate) sick visits. We also had our usual flu shot walk-in clinics. How busy each flu shot clinic is seems to vary over the years. This year, we were less busy than usual until the last few clinics where the numbers went up.
     The week before we ran out, we realized we would need more vaccine. When we called, we were initially told we could order as much as we needed. After discussing in the office, we called the next day to be told the previous days information was in fact not true -- they could not supply us with any further vaccine.
      We have been asked why we do not hold back vaccine for the youngest of patients who need a second dose. We do not do that. In fact, we could not as we believed up until the last minute that we could order more vaccine. And we fully intended to order more. There other logistical issues with holding back vaccine to give to someone else.
     So what about next year? Surely we will order more vaccine. But we have found that each year has its challenges. We appreciate that many of our patients are able to and do receive the vaccine in the office each year.