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Some families rushing to get flu shots met with obstacles

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SEATTLE — With the flu at ‘epidemic’ levels in Washington, people are rushing to get their flu shots. As people are scrambling to get vaccinated, they are running into obstacles. Some pharmacies are either reporting they have run out or on low supply.

For Gary Fulton and his 11-year-old son Bryce, getting their flu shot this year was a no-brainer.

“I just think it’s a good idea because getting the flu shot is a lot easier than getting the flu,” said Fulton.

The Fultons are one example of the many families rushing to get flu shots as the state health department calls the flu season an ‘epidemic.’

“It has definitely ramped up this past week for sure,” said Wei-Wei Chyan, a Bartell’s pharmacy manager. “It died down a little bit last month, but definitely everyone wants a flu shot this week when we ask them.”

While Chyan says Bartells has plenty of flu vaccine to get them through the season, other pharmacies we called say they’re having trouble keeping up with demand. Those like the De La Paz family saw it firsthand.

“First I called the pediatrician, and I was going to book the two appointments that were available this past weekend, but then I called to confirm and the receptionist said in a matter of seconds it was already booked,” said Anna De La Paz, a South Seattle mother of three.

To make matters worse, De La Paz says she had trouble finding a pharmacy that could give her entire family a flu shot, including her children ages 10, 7, and 5. Their issue was finding a pharmacy that could administer a flu shot to children.

“We’re pretty late in the game as far as getting our immunizations so it was very tough for us to have to scramble, call around and ask around,” said De La Paz.

The Washington State Pharmacy Association reports many of the large chains have access to flu vaccine, but there may be individual pharmacies that run out and need to restock.

It’s why the De La Paz’s suggest calling around before, so the experience can be as pain-free as possible.    “So I had to call around and even if you can’t get it all in one location, pharmacy, I would suggest to go to different places to try and get it done,” said De La Paz.

Some pharmacies have restrictions and will not administer flu shots to children. For example, the Rite Aid on Broadway in Seattle said there were no flu shots available to those under the age of 9 on Monday.

De La Paz told her a Walgreens wouldn’t administer the shot to anyone under the age of 7. Companies like Bartell’s have policies where the pharmacist won’t administer the vaccine to children under age 3.