Following Cornellians’ high demand for flu vaccinations and a national shortage, Cornell Health has run out of the flu vaccine, it said on Friday.
Sharon Dittman, the director of community relations at Cornell Health, told The Sun that the campus health center has no more vaccines left and that the Tompkins County Health Department had used up all of its vaccine stocks as well.
“Due to high campus demand and, now, a national flu vaccine shortage, we are out of flu vaccine at Cornell Health,” Dittman said. “We have been in close contact with vaccine suppliers who report that their inventories are depleted.”
The depletion comes after Cornell Health made adjustments in operation and pharmacy supply over the last few months to prevent and handle a potential flu outbreak. Dittman said she is unsure if or when when flu vaccines will become available again this season.
Dittman said that Cornell Health will continue to try and acquire more of the vaccine, but that the center has “been given no assurance or even estimate of when flu vaccines will be available again.”
Updates will be provided on the flu vaccination portion of Cornell Health’s website. The health center recommends that people attempting to get the vaccine should check with local pharmacies as soon as possible.
Cornell Health began actively preparing for a possible outbreak of flu at the University as students returned from break, in part due to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designating influenza as widespread in 49 of the 50 U.S. states.
Dr. Anne Jones ’04, director of medical services at Cornell Health, said in a recent interview with The Sun that only a “modest” number of students have been treated at Cornell Health for the flu.
Jones said in the interview, previous to Cornell Health using all of its vaccines, that Cornell Health had taken time over winter break to prepare for an increasing number of patients and had accumulated enough vaccines to serve students, what she called “most important step in prevention.”
Cornell Health had also taken several other administrative measures to help tackle a prospective flu outbreak, including extending its evening walk-in hours from 5 to 7 p.m. for emergencies and incorporating “nimble staffing,” which looks into people’s needs and makes adjustments to appointments and treatments at the clinic accordingly.
The New York Times reported on Friday that the current flu season is the most intense since 2009 and that more than 34 million could get the flu before the season is over.
Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the Center for Disease Control’s influenza division, told The Times during a news conference that the center expects this season’s statistics to be similar to the 2014-2015 flu season, in which 710,000 Americans were hospitalized and 56,000 died.
Jernigan recommended that people seeking to get the flu shot check vaccinefinder.org to find a pharmacy with vaccines.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs ’19 contributed research to this article.