Eastern Ontario seniors report shortage of recommended ‘high-dose’ flu vaccinations

Click to play video: 'Shortage of senior recommended flu shots in Ontario' Shortage of senior recommended flu shots in Ontario
WATCH: Many seniors in Ontario may have to wait until Dec. 1 to get their high-dose vaccine, according to one of the province's largest drug stores. – Oct 31, 2019

Flu season has arrived in Ontario, which, for many people, means it’s time to get their annual flu shot. But for seniors, there’s already a shortage of a recommended vaccine.

Global News spoke to several seniors in Eastern Ontario who were placed on waiting lists for the ‘high-dose vaccine’ and are unsure as to when they will receive it.

“They said they wouldn’t know when they are getting the vaccines or even if they’re getting it in at all,” said Patricia, a senior living in Kingston, Ont.

Patricia and many other seniors in Ontario may have to wait weeks before receiving their flu shots.

READ MORE: Health officials press Ottawans to get flu shot in campaign against vaccine hesitancy

According to the parent company of Shopper Drug Mart, Loblaw, the drug marts were advised that there is a delay until Dec. 1 of the high-dose-vaccine, also called Fluzone High-Dose, in Ontario.

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The news that seniors requiring the high-dose vaccine will have to wait weeks concerns Maulik Patel, a pharmacist in Kingston.

“I hear that many clinics just got about 10 doses now, and the seniors’ population in Kingston is quite large, so obviously it’s short in the market,” said Patel.

Click to play video: 'Growing concerns about possible flu vaccine shortage' Growing concerns about possible flu vaccine shortage
Growing concerns about possible flu vaccine shortage – Oct 14, 2019

As for why there is a shortage, a spokesperson for Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot offered Global News an explanation.

“[T]he identification of the common influenza strains circulating this year by the world health organization took longer than usual,” reads an emailed statement.

“One of the strains was identified approximately one month later. This resulted in a delay in the manufacturing of the flu vaccine this year.”

READ MORE: Health minister encouraging Ontarians to get flu shots

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The statement continued to say that on top of this, there have been production issues with the vaccines. Still, the province doesn’t expect any further shortages of the standard flu vaccination and is distributing the high-dose vaccine across Ontario.

Until the shipments get to Kingston, there’s one alternative for seniors requiring the high-dose shot.

“Although the high-dose vaccine is preferred for seniors, rather than not getting it at all, it’s always better to just get the flu vaccine,” said Patel.

According to Patel, if you’re a senior in Ontario, the high-dose vaccine is provided to clinics with certified influenza doctors. It may not be available at the standard flu shot stations.

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