A record number of vaccinations have been given out by B.C. pharmacists this year, and it’s only October.
The increase is partly because people are getting two shots — one being for influenza and the other a COVID vaccine booster.
“Just this past week, pharmacies alone in B.C. administered more than 330,000 flu and covid shots, combined,” said Angie Gaddy, spokesperson for the BC Pharmacy Association. “We’ve seen record numbers of vaccinations being done at pharmacies.”
It’s also the first time in the province that flu shots are free for anyone 6 years and under.
“We’re off to an extremely good start in our flu-shot campaign. We’re well ahead of the pace of last year,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix on Monday.
Pharmacists across the province are trying to keep up with demand, but say they’re limited by staffing, but more so, supply.
“We have been going 110 per cent,” said Linda Gutenberg, pharmacy manager at Heart Pharmacy Langford .”Everyone wants the vaccine in the first two weeks and it’s just not possible. Because the manufacturing is a global function as opposed to even country-specific, there are always issues with logistics and supply in terms of timing.”
The federal government orders the flu vaccine a year in advance. Pharmacies don’t control when or how flu vaccines are distributed. Pharmacists also aren’t in control of, or in the know, of how many flu shots they’re going to receive.
This may be at the core of why some have been noticing a lack of available appointments or inconsistency on the GetVaccinated website.
“It might not look like there are no appointments, but that’s just because if we don’t have supply we can’t post the appointments,” said Gutenberg.
There is however a potential longer wait for those aged 65+, which has a specialized flu vaccine for the age group.
“Supply is low coming in and the demand is exceeding the demand at this point in time,” said Gutenberg.
Regardless, Gutenberg’s advice is to have patience. The flu vaccines will come, with pharmacists administering them well into December.