Maricopa County’s last flu shot clinic Saturday was its best ever, doling out more than 4,000 doses of vaccine and leaving a relatively small number of unused doses, according to a county official.
The county has about 1,000 flu shots left, which will likely be provided to the homeless, senior centers and county employees who have not been vaccinated, said Shawn Nau, the county’s director of health care mandates. Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix received 1,000 doses and a small amount will be kept in reserve for emergencies, he said.
"Our priority was to make sure we satisfied the need in the community and I think we’ve done that," Nau said. "For not having very much flu, we did a lot of work."
Preparations for this year’s flu season followed a roller coaster of demand that peaked with the announcement in October that the U.S. flu shot supply would be cut in half. British regulators halted U.S. vaccine shipments when contamination was found at a manufacturer’s plant in England.
Droves of people went searching for flu shots, waiting hours in line for vaccine that quickly ran out. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations to restrict flu shots to the oldest and sickest, and influenza vaccine providers, including Maricopa County, ordered limited vaccine supplies so flu shot clinics could continue.
But as more people either got their vaccinations or gave up looking, county supplies piled up. Lackluster turnout at earlier clinics left the county with about 6,000 flu shots to give out at its last clinic Saturday.
Nau said expanded eligibility helped Saturday’s turnout, as well as media coverage alerting the public to its last chance for county vaccinations. Of the three clinics held that day, the East Valley location on Stapley Drive was the busiest, providing nearly 2,000 flu shots, he said.
"I think overall we’re pretty satisfied with the way this went this year," he said.