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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Mecklenburg County Health Department Struggles To Stockpile Flu Vaccines

Vaccine Shots

The Mecklenburg County Health Department is having trouble stockpiling flu vaccines, according to County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris.

“The manufacturers that we normally order from, most of that has already been sold and shipped,” Harris said at a news conference on Friday.

“And what we’re understanding from those manufacturers is that much of that was bought up by the federal government. So, in terms of our being able to bulk up on vaccines through the county, that has become a little bit of a challenge.”

Harris said the state of North Carolina is expected to receive some of the federally purchased flu vaccines and then distribute them to individual county health departments. But she said she did not know when that would be or how many vaccines Mecklenburg County would receive.

Flu vaccines are still available at pharmacies and health care providers in the county.

“At this point we aren’t seeing anything that looks like a shortage,” Harris said.

Harris told county commissioners on Tuesday night that the health department had ordered vaccines early and received "some."

"We have not gotten in as much as we wanted," she said.

Health officials in the county and state have expressed concern about the impending flu season’s overlap with the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Katie Passaretti, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Atrium Health, told reporters in September that there are “still more unknowns than knowns.”

The two illnesses can have identical respiratory symptoms. Though they’re caused by different viruses, COVID-19 and the flu can both lead to a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue and runny or stuffy nose, among other symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The coronavirus has a much higher mortality rate, however.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, has repeatedly spoken during press conferences about the importance of getting a flu shot this season.

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