'People start panicking:' Hayat Pharmacy experiencing shortage of high-dose flu vaccine

MILWAUKEE -- The Hayat Pharmacy chain has been hit hard. Owners tell FOX6 out of their 15 locations, only one has the high-dose vaccine specifically used to treat older patients -- and there are not many left.

Hashim Zaiback

You're looking at the last four high-dose flu vaccines available to Hayat Pharmacy customers. Across the drugstore chain's 15 locations -- during a peak vaccination period -- these are the only ones left.

"People start panicking as soon as they hear the word 'shortage'," said Hashim Zaiback, Hayat's CEO.

Zaiback says this is a part of the larger, national problem.

"There are three big wholesalers in the country, and we deal with one of them. They're out!" said Zaibak.

While supplies of the standard flu shot are steady, doctors recommend older patients more susceptible to influenza use the higher dose.

Flu vaccine shortage

Flu vaccine shortage

"It's recommended for people who are 65 and older," said Zaibak. "To be honest with you, they represent 70% of deaths and hospitalizations for people who get the flu every year."

Zaibak says the high dose is nearly 25% more effective. Pharmacists expect several weeks will go by before more vaccines are delivered. The rush for a vaccine isn't just from those over 65. Hayat reports a record number of general flu shots administered so far.

Flu vaccine shortage

Flu vaccine shortage

"We've been noticing a spike in the number of flu vaccines that we are giving compared to the previous year," said Zaibak.

We checked around to other agencies. The Waukesha County Public Department reports there is no "shortage" of the high-dose -- only a shipping delay with the manufacturer. The Health Department there opted to not even purchase that vaccine this year, instead opting for another vaccine they say protects against more strains of the virus.

CLICK HERE to see locations where the flu vaccine is available near you

Flu vaccine shortage