Doctors say pharmacies receive flu vaccine priority

While drug stores across the country are beefing up efforts to launch flu vaccination campaigns, a group of doctors in Michigan are complaining about vaccines being shipped out to pharmacy chains first..

Members of the Michigan State Medical Society are so angry that they have plans to launch a resolution advocating the national group lobby for a federal requirement that vaccine makers deliver flu and other vaccines to doctors first before drugstores and urgent care clinics, the Detroit News reports.

The resolution will be proposed during the November meeting of the state’s American Medical Association, according to the Detroit News.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions statistics, medical sites account for 70 percent of vaccines nationwide and pharmacies account for six percent. The workplace, at 15 percent, is the largest nonmedical site.

Pharmacists and urgent care operators told the Detroit News that they feel that their convenient flu shots are more convenient because they do not have to schedule doctor appointments.

May Hang, Detroit manager for the MinuteClinics that operate inside select CVS stores, told the Detroit News that she viewed herself as an extension of the health care industry.

“Anybody who walks into one of our facilities should not be walking out without a flu shot,” Hang told the Detroit News. “We just want them all to be vaccinated, so we can prevent a huge outbreak.”

Some doctors say they are glad more people are being vaccinated. Others, like Rick Johansen, medical director of the Berrien County Health Department, argue that those at the highest risk, like children, the elderly and pregnant women, should get preference for the shots.

“For reasons unknown, we are sitting there with high-risk patients, waiting for the vaccine to come, while down the road, the pharmacy is giving it out to everyone,” Johansen told the Detroit News. “It just doesn't make sense.”

Other doctors argue that some pharmacies do not keep detailed patient vaccination records needed to know which patients have been vaccinated and whom they need to target later.

David Share, who chairs the Michigan State Medical Society's Public Health Committee, told Detroit News that even when the supply is plentiful, physicians often get shortchanged.

“While in theory there's enough,” Share said, according to the Detroit News. “The problem is there's not enough in my office when we need it because we only get small amounts periodically from our suppliers.”