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Pharmacies beating out WRHA clinics for flu vaccinations

The number of people in Manitoba getting their flu shots remains stable, despite the WRHA reducing clinic availability.
The number of people in Manitoba getting their flu shots remains stable, despite the WRHA reducing clinic availability. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Toby Talbot

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) provided just four flu shot clinics this year, all occurring in October.

Last year saw 29 clinics being held at 10 different locations.

Dr. Heejune Chang, Medical Officer of Health for the province, said this is due to an increase in people going to pharmacies to get their shots.

“The attendance at those public health flu vaccine clinics has been going down a lot in the past few years, and we definitely think it’s because of the pharmacists being able to administer the vaccine now,” she said.

READ MORE: Province launches annual flu shot campaign

The number of people getting their shots at the clinics dropped by 50 per cent from 2014 to 2016.

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“In 2014, there was a little over 24,000 doses given out by our clinics,” Dr. Chang said. “In 2016, it was down to just a little over 12,000, so it actually went down by half.”

Despite this dramatic drop, Dr. Chang said the number of Manitobans receiving their flu shots has remained the same over the years.

“It’s always a little over 20 per cent; a fifth of the population generally get their vaccinations. We’d love for that to go up, but we generally see that’s the trend,” she said.

The potential problem with reduced clinic availability is that children under seven-years-old cannot get their shot at the pharmacy – but they can get it elsewhere, with most going to their family doctors.

READ MORE: Here’s why Canada may be in for a miserable 2017-18 flu season

Dr. Chang said the clinics that happened this year were more of an outreach effort, with the goal of making it easy for people who might not be able to get to get their flu shots elsewhere to get vaccinated.

Flu shots are available at pharmacies across the city, as well as access centres, quick care clinics and physicians’ offices.​

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