The area around the pharmacy in the back of the CVS store on Trapelo Road was packed this afternoon, Jan. 14, with people waiting for their prescriptions to be filled or picking up refills.
Then one customer came to the drop in area and asked the pharmacist if they were available to provide her and her daughter with a flu shot.
"I'm sorry but we are all out," said the pharmacists, who said later that the store had run out of their supply and did not expect a refill "until the end of the week."
Over at the national chain's store in Belmont Center, the news was the same: all out.
"Our warehouse doesn't have any left," said a pharmacist who answered the phone. "I don't know what the schedule is for more vaccine coming here," she said.
After nearly a week of news reports on the severity of the flu epidemic that has effected all but one state in the country and announcements that it is never too late to receive a shot to prevent catching the virus, the supply of influenza vaccine – which was already in short supply in the Northeast – was swamped by an overwhelming wave of demand in Massachusetts and across the country.
The surge of residents and others seeking relief from the influenza outbreak has hit surrounding towns hard as Watertown's two CVS Pharmacies report that they have run out of the vaccine while most pharmacies in Bedford, Concord and Lexington are out of flu shots, though some local pharmacists are hopeful they’ll receive a shipment in the next few days.
And it's not just the big chains – like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid – are out of flu shots; in Concord, the independent West Concord Pharmacy is fresh out of dosages. It’s unclear whether reinforcements are on the way.
While the traditional pharmacies have gone dry, the local supermarket is stocked with the sought-after vaccine: Shaw's Supermarket/Osco Pharmacy at 585 Trapelo Road in Waverley Square does have a ready supply and will be providing vaccinations until they run out, said a pharmacists.
In addition, Belmont Savings Bank in association with Mount Auburn Hospital will be holding a free vaccination clinic on Wednesday and Thursday at the Bank's main office
The Watertown Health Department still has some, too, and members of the staff will put on a flu clinic on Friday, Jan. 18. The free clinic will be held at the Watertown Free Public Library from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.