Every fall, public health units in the northern hemisphere, recommend that everyone get vaccinated for influenza, or the flu. This year, as we are amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, so many people followed this recommendation that most pharmacies this fall, ran out of flu shots. Elderly people and very young children are at greater risk than healthy adults. Many people get the flu shot, not for themselves, but as a generous act to prevent loved ones from getting the flu.
The flu shot must be administered every year because the strains of active influenza virus mutate on a yearly basis. The Australian flu season informs the pharmaceutical industry about how to adjust the flu vaccine in time for the northern vaccination season; the season we experience in North America, informs the Australian vaccines, and so goes the cycle. As of today, there have been only two lab confirmed cases of influenza in Canada, which is an unusually low incidence rate. It appears that the masks, hand sanitizing and social distancing measures are effective at reducing the spread of flu! i
Pharmacists have been assisting with the process of vaccinating for the provincially paid flu shot for many years. New in 2020, the high dose flu shot for seniors was available for the first time in pharmacies. Effective December 11, 2020, children over the age of two will be able to get their flu shot with everyone else in the family at pharmacies in Ontario.
Pharmacists can also administer 10 additional vaccinations, for a fee. These are Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Herpes Zoster (Shingles), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Japanese Encephalitis, Meningococcal disease, Pneumococcal disease, Rabies, Typhoid, Varicella (Chicken Pox) and Yellow Fever. A prescription is required to be written for any of these vaccinations. The provincial government and third-party insurance companies will sometimes cover the costs of the vaccines and their administration at the physician or nurse practitioner office.
At this time, the COVID-19 vaccinations are not available in pharmacies. We will be sure to advise our client base, if this changes.