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Flu shot shortage proving to be short-lived

A few weeks ago, flu shots couldn't be found in the Tampa Bay area. And when they were available, people quickly lined up to get them.

But one of Tampa Bay's largest shot providers said they've had shots available for a week now, with few takers. Doctor's Walk-In Clinics, which has seven offices in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, received a supply of 2,500 flu shots a week ago.

By late Monday, the clinics had 1,900 shots left, said Dr. Stephen Dickey, CEO and medical director of the clinics. The clinics have been giving them to anyone who asks, not just the higher-risk groups recommended by federal officials.

Dickey thinks sunny skies have lulled people into complacency about the flu.

"With this warm weather, they're too busy sitting out in the sunshine," he said. But Florida's flu season runs through March.

At the Pinellas County Health Department, where officials began offering flu shots last week, providers have seen "a good steady demand" of people looking for shots. The department is offering them to people in the federal high-risk groups at offices in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Clearwater.

Federal officials have expanded the list of high-risk groups since the flu shot shortage began. The list now includes people ages 50 and over, as well as children between the ages of 6 and 35 months and people in the same households as those at high risk.

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