Flu shot queues have been steady at downtown Trail pharmacies since the seasonal vaccine became available in-store about a month ago.
“It has been just as busy as last year,” says Linda Seib, RPh at Shoppers Drug Mart. “There does not seem to be the big gap in supply like last year; although, the quantity pharmacies are allowed to order is restricted,” she added.
“So be patient with your pharmacy as there are many people to vaccinate and we are being supplied with a limited quantity.”
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, 1.53 million doses of the vaccine have been purchased so far this year.
That’s up slightly from the 1.47 million doses purchased last winter, based on the orders submitted by each health authority in the province.
With the CDC reporting more flu-like illnesses than what is usual for this time of year, last week the province ramped up its message to “Protect yourself: vaccinate early to prevent the flu.”
In Trail the next drop-in public clinic at the Kiro Wellness Centre is slated for Nov. 17, then again Nov. 20 by appointment.
Interior Health encourages residents to call ahead to ensure vaccine availability.
“The flu is a highly contagious disease from which people can take actions to protect themselves,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall in a release issued Wednesday.
“Getting your flu shot early and washing your hands frequently can help protect yourself, and others, from contracting and spreading the flu.”
In 2014, a particularly virulent strain of the H1N1 flu virus caused shortages in the flu vaccine.
The health ministry said it did not anticipate any such shortages this year.
According to the Canada CDC (Centre for Disease Control), the percentage of influenza-positive lab tests are higher for this time of year compared to previous seasons.
The majority of influenza detection continues to be A(H3N2), with the number of influenza-related hospitalizations being sporadic, though localized activity is above the expected levels for this time of year.
The flu shot is free for those British Columbians and their close contacts who are:
* children between six months and five years old;
* seniors 65 and older;
* pregnant women;
* Indigenous people;
* individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems;
* anyone who lives with any of these people; and
* visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals.
Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Across Canada, thousands of people are hospitalized from influenza and about 3,500 Canadians die from the flu and its complications each year. In total, influenza causes more deaths than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is also publicly funded and available at public-health clinics and physicians’ offices for children two to 17 years old who are at risk of serious illness from influenza or who live with someone who is at risk.
“In addition to seniors, the flu is a serious illness that can be dangerous to many groups of people,” said Dr. Trina Larsen Soles, president of the Doctors of BC. “Getting the vaccine can help prevent flu-related health concerns before they happen.”
Hospitalized patients and seniors in residential care are more vulnerable to influenza than healthy adults. To help protect them, all health authority employees, students, physicians, residents, contractors, vendors, volunteers and visitors to health-care facilities must get immunized by Dec. 1, 2017, or wear a mask when in a patient care area. The vaccine is offered free for these groups as well.
To find the nearest flu shot clinic, call HealthLink BC at 811 or visit the Influenza Clinic Finder at: www.immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu