High-dose flu shot in short supply for some seniors

Some confusion over where to get the special vaccine

Seniors in parts of the province are struggling to get the high-dose flu shot because some clinics have run out, says the deputy opposition leader.

“Of the 20 clinics that we called around the province, 12 said that they hadn’t been able to obtain any vaccines or they were already out,” NDP MPP Sara Singh said as part of a question to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott, during the Nov. 1 session of Parliament.

“A few of them did have vaccines but warned us that they would be running out of that supply very soon.”

Elliott acknowledged Singh’s concerns but pointed out that the high-dose vaccine is only available at certain types of facilities.

“In terms of the actual high-dose flu vaccine for seniors 65 years and older, it’s not for every person, but many seniors should get that one,” Elliott said. “It’s not available in pharmacies. It’s only available at doctors’ offices. There may be a little bit of confusion about that.”

Grace Kong, a pharmacist at the Shoppers Drug Mart at Pape and Cosburn Aves., reiterated the point.

“Seniors cannot come to the pharmacy [for the high-dose vaccine] because we do not have any supply,” she said. “We usually refer them to their doctor’s office.”

Sandra Dwight, a senior who lives in East York, didn’t even know about the special shot.

“I have gotten the [regular] flu shot,” she said. “I never knew that there was more than one flu shot. But I heard on the news this year about the high-dose one.

“I really believe that the flu shot has helped me.”

NDP health critic France Gélinas explained why seniors should get the high-dose vaccine.

“It is worth it because so many people die from the flu,” she said in an interview. “It also helps what we call herd immunity.  When a lot of people have the flu shot, it helps to protect the most vulnerable.”

Gélinas added that there is a particular process that needs to be followed to get the concentrated vaccine.

“You need to have an assessment before you can have the high-dose [vaccine], and only physicians and nurse practitioners can do that assessment.”

Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Kong said the high-dose vaccine has performed well.

“The effectiveness rate this year went up by 25 per cent, as it is four times stronger,” she said.

Where to get the regular yearly vaccination:

  1. Public health units
  2. Clinics
  3. Pharmacies
  4. Local grocery stores
  5. Long-term care health units

What about the high-dose shots recommended for seniors?

  1. Family doctor
  2. Nurse partitioner’s offices

About this article

Posted: Nov 20 2018 10:51 am
Filed under: News