Kelowna News

Strong demand means some providers short of flu vaccine in Kelowna

A patient gets a shot during a flu vaccine program in Calgary on Oct. 26, 2009.
Image Credit: Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS

KELOWNA - Strong demand has left some local pharmacies and clinics short of this year’s flu vaccine but the Interior Health Authority says there’s more than enough to go around.

Immunization manager Pamela de Bruin said the health authority has ordered 240,000 doses of the vaccine, 30,000 more than last year and that distribution to over 800 clinics and pharmacies is in full swing.

“There is no shortage. The vaccine arrives in batches over several weeks and is redistributed to literally hundreds of places,” de Bruin said, adding that some pharmacists have still not received their entire initial allotment, while others may have already run out.

Allotments are made based on numbers from last year, de Bruin said, which means some providers may only get a couple of hundred doses of the vaccine.

In turn, if any doses of the vaccine are not used, they are redistributed to other areas with the aim of using as many of them as possible, she added.

Today marks the first of several mass immunization clinics the health authority will hold throughout its service area.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Safeway pharmacy in downtown Kelowna and Save-On Foods on Lakeshore Road both said they had run out of the flu vaccine and were referring clients to the mass vaccination clinics. The pharmacist at Save-On Foods said other stores in his chain were also running low.

London Drugs in Kelowna still had some vaccine but was booking clients for appointments instead of accepting walk-ins. Glenvalley Medical Centre in Glenmore reported Monday it had run out of the vaccine and did not know when it would get more. However, Loblaws and Shoppers Drugmart downtown were still accepting walk-ins and say they still have plenty of vaccine in stock.

Although the health authority does not offer a universal flu vaccination program, de Bruin said just about anyone who shows up at a mass clinic will find they are eligible.

Public health officials have been expecting a severe flu season with two of the more virulent A strains expected to appear. Flu season normally begins at the end of October.

The health authority says this year’s vaccine offers protection from three viruses including A/Michigan/45, A/Hong Kong /4801 and B/Brisbane/60.

Flu shots are free for many and cost around $20 for those who don’t meet the health authority’s criteria.

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