January 4, 2014 11:19 pm
Updated: January 4, 2014 11:33 pm

Flu vaccination efforts hampered by distribution problems

About 300 people lined up for flu shots at Brentwood Village Mall in Calgary on January 2, 2014.

Global News / David Boushy

CALGARY- Officials with Alberta Health Services say distribution problems are hampering efforts to get Albertans vaccinated as the province copes with a serious flu outbreak.

In Calgary, people lined up for hours on Saturday to get their flu shot at mass immunization clinics set up by the province.

Calgarians are also supposed to be able to get vaccinations at drug stores, but at pharmacies contacted by Global News, that was often not possible on Saturday.

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“We had enough for a month and it’s gone in two days,” says Amir Khazand, a pharmacist at a Shoppers Drug Mart in the city’s northwest.

The rush to get vaccinated has accelerated since provincial health officials said this year’s flu season is made worse by particularly aggressive flu strains. There are 357 confirmed cases of the flu in Calgary and at least 345 of those are H1N1. Across the province,  5 deaths and over 251 hospitalizations are being attributed to the flu outbreak.

Officials with Alberta Health Services say they’re aware of the vaccine shortages at pharmacies across the province, but maintain there is enough vaccine for everyone and that the problem has more to with distribution management. They say the province could order more vaccines if demand continues.

“Yes we were lazy and didn’t get on the ball and get it done,” says Erin Lane, a mother of two trying to get her family vaccinated. “But now knowing, it’s very frustrating.”

In a rare move, the province says it’s brought staff in over the weekend to expedite the processing of incoming orders of vaccine. Most pharmacies Global News spoke with say they expect to have more stock by Monday or Tuesday.

While many Calgarians choose to go to pharmacies for their flu shots, many are choosing to get vaccinated at two flu clinics currently operating in the city. Provincial officials say if the flu outbreak continues to surge, more clinics may be added.

You can find information on where and when the two flu clinics will be operating below:

Brentwood Village Mall, 3630 Brentwood Road, N.W.
Tue, January 7, 2014 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM (Drop In)
Wed, January 8, 2014 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM (Drop In)

South Calgary Health Centre, 31 Sunpark Plaza, S.E.
Tue, January 07, 2014 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM (Drop In)
Wed, January 08, 2014 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM (Drop In)

© 2014 Shaw Media

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