Pharmacies stuck in the middle on slow rollout for new Covid vaccine

A new COVID vaccine is available at pharmacies but the problem is people are having a hard time tracking this down. The pharmacist I talked with says it’s challenging for them to keep a steady supply

"We have a shortage on everything these days - the last thing you want to have is a shortage on the Covid vaccine," said Pharmacist Rudy Najm.

But that's the reality for Najm, the owner of I-Pharmacy in Livonia. He received 10 boxes of the vaccine a couple of days ago — and ran out this morning.

He can order more, but it’s up in the air when the order would arrive and how many shots he’ll even get.

"It’s becoming more like a distribution problem, it’s outside the pharmacy control - who has the means, who has the right equipment and fridges, the demand for it," he said. "It’s a matter of allocation."

And price - Najm says the government is not buying the shots anymore — it's up to the pharmacists — and insurance.

"Each shot technically, I'm losing $150," he said. "That triggers the shortage because as a pharmacist I’m not going to be able to order another 15 boxes."

And it’s not just at I-Pharmacy feeling the shortage on shots.

Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel posted on X, formerly Twitter, that she had made a second appointment to get her shot at CVS and went through the process,  only to be told they were all out.

CVS apologized and confirmed there have been delivery delays.

This difficulty to find the latest vaccine is coming at a rough time — Covid is popping up more frequently across communities.

"We have 57 patients hospitalized with Covid," said Dr. Anurag Malani, Trinity Health Michigan. "That’s the highest number it’s been in some time, including there are also some people in the Intensive Care Unit ."

Malani, the infectious disease lead for COVID-19 response at Trinity Health Michigan says our state is seeing both greater test positivity and increased hospitalizations.

The current variants were seeing right now; the updated vaccine is an excellent match for that. And he recommends the vaccine for everyone six months and up, saying the older you are, the more at risk for Covid.

Meanwhile — Najm — is just hoping he can get another order in to help his community.

"We can get them any time, I just don’t know when," he said.

Najm said this is pretty typical with vaccine rollouts. There are usually a couple of weeks when they’re ironing out the kinks.

One of the things to keep in mind, he thinks two weeks is where you’ll really see the supply for the vaccine come in.

Rudy Najam at I-Pharmacy

Rudy Najm at I-Pharmacy