This should not have occurred!
CARP NS contacted the Provincial Government in July expressing our concern about the expected “worse than usual” flu expected this year. We were assured that officials had the situation in hand and appropriate vaccine would be available go everyone who needs it. So what happened? CARP is looking for answers…and solutions!
Doctors, pharmacists short on flu vaccine
JOHN MCPHEE THE CHRONICLE HERALD: firstname.lastname@example.org @halijohnmcphee
You may have to spend some time on the phone to figure out where you can get your flu shot. Drugstores and doctors’ offices were reporting vaccine supply challenges Friday. Several Lawtons and Shoppers Drug Mart stores contacted by The Chronicle Herald in Halifax said their flu shot shelves were empty. A sign at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Joseph Howe Drive advertising flu shots had a banner strung across it saying ‘Waiting for flu supplies.’
A Dartmouth man told the Herald that his doctor was out of vaccine, while a Halifax doctor’s office said its supply had been “hit and miss” since the vaccine became available last week. A similar supply problem arose late in the flu season last year.
Health Minister Randy Delorey rejected the term shortages Friday.
‘There was sufficient access to flu vaccine within the province (last year),’ he told reporters at the legislature. ‘As the flu season continued, there were reports of specific providers who did not have supply at their specific sites.
‘Walking into a particular provider on a particular day, they may have supply at that time, that may occur. By calling your service provider or calling public health, we can certainly identify within your community where you can get the flu vaccine.’
As of Friday, the province had received about 88 per cent of the 461,000 doses it has ordered this year, a Health Department spokeswoman said in an email. The rest is expected to arrive Nov. 1.
Last year, Nova Scotia received 430,330 doses and 1,845 doses were returned to the province by providers, Heather Fairbairn said.
Earlier this month the province’s chief medical officer said vaccine providers must do a better job sharing their supplies.
Like the health minister, Dr. Robert Strang said that was a matter of distribution, not a shortage of vaccine.
“We had 1,000 to 1,100 primary-care locations that we needed to get vaccines to and roughly 400 pharmacies” last year, he told the Herald. “Some of those were running out but there was still lots of access to flu vaccine in other locations. It wasn’t an overall shortage.
“I would love to run out of flu vaccine in January, February, because that would mean we’ve actually immunized a lot more people than we immunized last year.” Only 36 per cent of Nova Scotians were immunized last year, down slightly from the year before.
In a tweet Friday afternoon in response to the online comments and media questions about supply, the Health Department said ‘We want to assure Nova Scotians that flu shots are available. We have received 88 per cent of our ordered doses and expect to have the remainder by the end of next week.’
The flu vaccine is available free of charge to all Nova Scotians six months of age and older, and is available at most pharmacies, family doctors and many workplaces. At the end of last year’s flu season — which officially ends in late August in Nova Scotia — 68 deaths had been recorded related to 774 laboratory-confirmed cases of Influenza A and 23 laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza B. All deaths were among adults.