'COVID-19 Vaccine Not Yet Available' Pharmacies Tell Customers Who Keep Asking For Treatment

A Milwaukee pharmacy has had to remind its customers that they do not have a vaccine for the coronavirus following a spate of requests, according to reports.

The Walgreens Pharmacy on 76th and Center was forced to place a sign in the window reading "COVID-19 vaccine not yet available" as more and more people confuse the flu shot with a vaccine needed to protect against the virus which has killed more than 220,000 in the U.S.

"A lot of times, [customers] say, 'Well I was driving by Walgreens and I saw a sign that the vaccine is available,' and we're like, 'Yeah, that was the flu vaccine, it wasn't really the COVID-19 vaccine," Dr. Hashim Zaibak, a pharmacist at Hayat Pharmacy, told WISN.

"So people, when they are driving, they see one word and they just associate it with COVID-19 and it's really not the vaccine."

Zaibak said the confusion may be linked to false information being spread on social media and uncertainty about when a vaccine may become available.

"[We] share with them the facts. [We] tell them there's no vaccine now, but we know that it's coming soon," Zaibak said. "Flu vaccination is important in any year, but in 2020 it became a little bit more important with the COVID-19 pandemic."

Zaibak also urged people to get tested for COVID-19 if they have any symptoms or fear they may have been exposed.

Elsewhere, demand for the flu shots as an alternative for the COVID-19 vaccine has rapidly increased in other parts of the country.

Craig Clark, owner of Clark's Pharmacy in Cedar Rapids, Owa, said that the number of people requesting flu shots have almost doubled this season amid the pandemic.

Clark said his pharmacy is not the only one experiencing an increase, with customers telling him that they've had to make several stops in order to find any that are still available.

"Surprisingly early on, some doctors and some clinics had run out. We did assist one office with a few doses, and they've asked us if we can get some more, but we're down to almost nothing. We have just enough to finish our last couple of flu clinics," Clark told KCRG.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is a chance that a limited supply of available vaccines may be developed before the end of the year, with plans to roll them out to the wider public in the following weeks and months.

On Friday, the U.S. recorded its highest ever daily toll of new COVID-19 cases with 83,948. This figure overtakes the previous highest of 77,299 new COVID-19 cases set on July 16.

Residents walk out of a pharmacy in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park on September 23, in New York City. A Milwaukee pharmacy has had to tell its customers that they do not have a vaccine for the coronavirus following a spate of requests. Spencer Platt/Getty