Pharmacies are Bracing for a Surge in Demand for Flu Shots Amid the Pandemic

With flu season quickly approaching, and the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, hospitals and pharmacies across the country are stockpiling far more flu vaccines than normal, anticipating a surge in demand. According to this article by STAT News, Rite Aid has purchased 40% more influenza vaccines than other years to meet an expected uptick in demand. Walgreens has also increased its flu vaccine stockpile this year, anticipating a 30% to 50% jump in customers who will want flu shots or other immunizations.

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers in a hearing this week that the agency had ordered an additional 9.3 million adult flu vaccines this year. Redfield said widespread flu vaccine coverage “could help our nation avert a very difficult fall.”

Even in normal times, flu season has the potential to strain the health care system. Between 9 million and 45 million people are infected with the flu each year, and between 140,000 and 810,000 are hospitalized. “Flu is a critical moment in time in the healthcare industry,” said Christopher Savarese, director of operations for Rite Aid. “This year is one of the most important — if not the most important — flu season in our generation.”


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