NEW YORK — Faced with a nationwide shortage of flu vaccine, New York City is asking companies to donate supplies meant for their employees so that the elderly and other vulnerable people can get shots.
As of Friday, the call for help had been heeded by Goldman Sachs & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., Arthur Andersen LLP, Citigroup Inc. and AXA Financial, which together donated 1,500 doses to the city.
"I urge employers with flu vaccine supplies intended for healthy workers to join the Health Department in the effort to help improve the health outlook of vulnerable New Yorkers," Health Commissioner Neal Cohen said.
He said the department will make 14,000 of its doses available to nursing home residents.
The shortage should ease by the end of the month, said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She said that the manufacturers are producing the same amount of vaccine this year as last but that it took longer to make, slowing distribution.
Reynolds said New York is the first city she knows of that is asking corporations to donate supplies meant for their own employees.
The drugstore chains Rite-Aid and Walgreens are already helping out. Rite-Aid decided to postpone its mass vaccination campaign to make the vaccine available first to hospitals and doctors treating high-risk patients. Walgreens has targeted its advertising about vaccinations to those at high risk.