People who want a flu shot but don’t already have an appointment can sign up for wait lists or early notifications, but apart from that need to sit tight and wait until pharmacies in Richmond get more supply.
None of the pharmacies are currently offering walking-in vaccinations or will book future appointments until the next batch of vaccines arrives, which most say should be early to mid-December.
Vaccines are distributed through a federally coordinated process.
For weeks, public health officials have been asking people to get vaccinated so hospitals can conserve hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients. The message seems to have gotten through and some Richmond-based pharmacies have reported the demand for flu shots has been significantly higher than in past years.
“Once we get more from (the vaccine distribution program), then we will open up bookings again,” said Chris Chiew, London Drugs’ general manager of pharmacy.
In the meantime, people can sign up to receive a notification when the vaccine is available at their nearby locations, according to Chris Chiew, London Drugs’ general manager of pharmacy, adding they have enough stock at the moment to get through all their November bookings.
Super Grocer Pharmacy in Steveston is also compiling a wait list and will notify people when the vaccine comes in. Other pharmacies are simply asking people to call back in December.
But while pharmacists might be using up their allotments from the health unit faster than usual because of heightened awareness this year, there shouldn’t be any concern about a vaccine shortage, explained a pharmacist from the Steveston Medicine Shoppe Compounding Pharmacy.
In an emailed statement, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) also noted there is a high demand for flu vaccines this year. They will have distributed 2.1 million doses by the end of this week, which is an increase of 600,000 over last season.
“We understand the concerns and challenges as some people wait to get immunized, and we are asking people to please be patient as the clinics have only started in November in some communities...Pending authorization, additional doses are being secured for a total of 2.26 million in fall 2020,” read the statement.
In addition, people at high risk are given priority for publicly funded flu shots, such as seniors aged 65 years and older, residents of long-term facilities, adults and children with pre-existing health conditions and pregnant women, according to BCCDC’s website.
Some pharmacies are asking people to give them a call to let them know if they are high risk.
To find a flu clinic, click here: https://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu#8/49.246/-123.116.