BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — As the pandemic rages on, it's more important than ever in 2020 to get your flu shot.
That's especially true for vulnerable populations. Those who are over the age of 65 get a different kind of flu shot, a shot that's becoming tougher to find in some parts of the city.
If you’re a senior, doctors are recommending the high dose Fluzone vaccine, which is four times the strength of the regular flu shot.
Bur a random check found that this high-dose, quadruple strength flu shot for seniors was in short supply at some CVS stores as well as a few City MDs and Rite Aid pharmacies.
It is not surprising to see a shortage of the high-dose flu vaccine, according to Northwell Health family medicine physician Dr. Eric Ascher.
“Every year, we are at risk of running out of the high-dose flu vaccine,” Dr. Ascher told PIX11 News. “This year, more than ever, especially as cases of COVID rise here in New York. Most people are realizing if they get the flu, their body will be at a weakened state and so they’ll be more susceptible to developing COVID, which is not something you want."
Because of the pandemic, the demand for flu shots has risen across the board, but particularly for those 65 and older.
The Centers for Disease Control say that 50 to 70% of all hospitalizations related to the flu are people 65 and older and 75 to 85% of flu-related deaths are in this senior population.
So doctors say, with the pandemic still with us, there is such a strong incentive to get a flu shot, no matter what your age.
“It is very important to get the shot now more than ever,” Dr. Ascher said. “There are virtually no side effects. The benefits outweigh the risk."
A New York City Health Department spokesperson gave seniors an option if they were running into trouble getting the high-dose vaccine.
"If any seniors are currently having trouble finding high-dose flu vaccines, the city recommends that they receive the standard dose flu vaccine.”
The health department is developing a program to send out teams of community vaccinators across the city to give out free flu shots. Lenox Hill Hospital is also giving out free flu shots for all age groups next Monday (Oct. 19), Wednesday (Oct. 21), Thursday (Oct. 22) and the following Monday (Oct. 26).
To find a vaccine, call your health care provider, check at your local pharmacy, or if you don’t have a provider, call 311 or text FLU to 877-877 to find a flu vaccine near you. New Yorkers can also find vaccine by using the flu vaccine locator at the city's website.