Many Upper Cape residents have had trouble finding the Fluzone High-Dose flu vaccine for people age 65 and older at pharmacies and urgent care centers in recent weeks.
The regular flu vaccine is widely available on the Upper Cape now that flu season has begun in earnest and is expected to peak in January or February, pharmacists said.
Like the regular flu vaccine, Fluzone High-Dose is made up of the three flu strains—one Type B and two Type As—most likely to cause the flu during the upcoming season.
“The high-dose flu vaccine is intended for those patients 65 and older and does give a stronger immune response than the standard vaccine. However, the organization whose guidelines we follow, the Centers for Disease Control and its advisory committee on immunization practices, does not make any specific recommendations on which flu vaccine to get,” said David S. Tager, chief medical officer of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod, which has offices in Bourne, Falmouth and Mashpee.
The main consideration is that everyone get some immunization against influenza, especially anyone with reduced immune capacity, which includes adults 65 and over, Dr. Tager said.
“Community Health Center of Cape Cod does not have the high-dose vaccine, but we do have the quadrivalent flu vaccine available for patients,” he said.
The quadrivalent vaccine protects against two Type A and two Type B strains.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health urges anyone over 65 who cannot find the high-dose vaccine to get the regular flu vaccine without delay.
The Barnstable County Health Department is offering the high-dose vaccine as well as the regular flu vaccine at 3195 Main Street (Route 6A) in Barnstable.
Those interested in scheduling a vaccine appointment with the county’s public health nurse should call 508-375-6617.
The Cape Cod Healthcare retail pharmacies in the lobbies of Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis are offering the regular flu vaccine to people age 9 and older.
As of this week, Fluzone is available free of charge at the CVS locations at 433 East Falmouth Highway and at 8 Greene Street in Mashpee Commons.
It has been backordered indefinitely at CVS at 105 Davis Straits. A pharmacist there said the store hopes to have the shots early next week at the latest.
The shot is also available at Rite Aid at 520 Main Street in Falmouth.
The Cape Cod Healthcare urgent care centers at 273 Teaticket Highway in Falmouth and 2 Jan Sebastian Drive in Sandwich do not have the Fluzone shot at this time; representatives at both said they could not specify when it would be available.
ConvenientMD Urgent Care at 40 Davis Straits in Falmouth is expecting to have Fluzone shots by early next week at the latest.
Falmouth Walk-In Medical Center at 309 Teaticket Highway could not be reached to confirm Fluzone’s availability.
In addition to flu vaccines, antivirals such as Tamiflu and Xofluza are also available at pharmacies and urgent care centers across the Cape.