A nationwide delay in shipments of flu vaccines means Nova Scotia currently only has half the number of doses it normally would this time of year.
Each fall, the province begins stocking up on doses of the flu vaccine to help protect Nova Scotians from influenza. While the immunization program typically has most of its supply by now, shortages connected to the pharmaceutical company that provides the vaccine means deliveries have been staggered.
“We have about half of our vaccine supply in the province now and we’re going to get several more allotments over the next few weeks,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
Despite those delays, Strang isn’t sounding the alarm.
He says the federal government procures the vaccine on behalf of all the provinces and territories and then the doses are distributed accordingly through each jurisdiction.
While the current stock is sitting at roughly half of the 447,000 doses expected to be provided this season, Strang doesn’t anticipate that being an issue as flu shot season officially kicks off.
“We want people to get immunized by mid-December, so it’s a two-month program.”
“Our vaccine doesn’t come all at once so we have about half of our vaccine supply in the province now and we’re going to get several more allotments over the next few weeks,” he said.
Pharmacist Curtis Chaffe echoed Strang’s sentiment, saying the government supply of flu vaccine won’t be an issue for those who choose to get immunized.
However, Chaffe says people who opt to go the private route may encounter some changes.
He said people who may have purchased high dose flu vaccines privately in the past may have to wait until December, while those choosing alternatives to the flu shot could be out of luck altogether.
“Children who usually get the nasal spray vaccines, unfortunately those are not going to be available at all this year,” Chaffe said.
Dr. Strang says it’s too early to determine what type of strain will likely hit the province this year but he doesn’t anticipate any unusual strains from what have arrived in past years.
He still would like to see immunization rates increase throughout the province. Last year, only 36 percent of Nova Scotians got the flu shot.
“We underestimate the impact of deaths and significant impact on our healthcare system,” he said.