Hamilton facing flu vaccine shortage despite Ontario government assurances


Published November 2, 2020 at 10:29 am

Ontarians were assured on Oct. 15 there would be “enough flu vaccine for everyone”. But despite those assurances from Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, many pharmacies across the province have turned away walk-ins and cancelled scheduled flu shot appointments due to a shortage of the vaccine.

Calls were placed to Hamilton pharmacies at Rexall, Fortinos, and Shoppers Drug Mart Monday morning — and they were all out of the vaccine.

“We put an order in last week but we haven’t received it, yet,” said one pharmacist at a Hamilton Fortinos.

As of Monday morning, just one out of the 30 Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies within a 10 km radius of downtown Hamilton reported that they had the vaccine in stock.

The Province said it ordered approximately 5.1 million doses this year compared to the 4.4 million doses it ordered last year.

“The shipments come in on set schedules from global manufacturers so there may be temporary shortages in some physician and nurse practitioner offices as well as in some of our pharmacies but it is only a temporary shortage,” Elliott told reporters at Queen’s Park last week. “There are shipments coming in on a regular basis and there are no delays with shipments at all.”

The Province has urged residents to get the flu shot this year, especially.

In 2019 there were more than 5,700 influenza-related hospitalizations in Ontario — a number the government hopes is reduced in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic continually threatening health care capacity.

One positive to take from the shortage is that there is an unprecedented demand for the flu shot, meaning Ontarians are taking the threat seriously and trusting health experts.

The shot is free in Ontario and you do not need to present your health card to receive it. Some pharmacies are accepting walk-ins while others require an appointment so be sure to call ahead.

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