Too Much Medicine

"That's 20 million more than we've ever had," says Christine Pearson, a spokesperson for the CDC. She added that at the national level, the CDC does run such campaigns as "National Influenza Vaccination Week."

"There's a lot of work that goes every year into getting people to take the shots," says Pearson.

Siegel believes that the problems of distribution could be solved if the government exercised more direct control over the flu shot, buying more doses and taking a bigger hand in distribution.

"The problem with flu shots is that it's not a profitable business," Siegel explains. "The last thing [drug companies] want is to have a bunch of surplus." Siegel says that means that if there's a surplus this year; the market might correct and produce fewer vaccines next year.

That leaves it up to local clinics to market the extra doses to their patients -- a problem made difficult by public psychology about the flu shot.

Shot Psychology

Despite the market challenges of the flu shot, good old fashioned psychology also plays a big role in how many people get the shot.

"The warm weather had probably got a lot of people to stop thinking about the flu," says Siegal. While studies have shown that the flu virus lives better in the low-humidity conditions that come with cold winters, Siegal said that temperatures are dropping in the Northeast and Midwest -- regions of the country where flu season has yet to hit -- and that more people need to start getting the shot.

World events also have an effect. Nordin, the Minnesota doctor, remember that in 2003 there were many reports in the media of flu deaths happening in the Southwest, causing and increased demand for the shots. But then an event took place that almost completely halted his patients' demand for the shot: the capture of Sadaam Hussein.

"People have a short attention span," says Nordin. He agrees that clinics need to do a better job of marketing the vaccine to patients, as public psychology hasn't caught up yet to the increased CDC recommendations. He hopes that changes soon.

"The vaccine doesn't do any good sitting on a shelf."

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