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Some Calgary pharmacists report higher demand for flu shots during pandemic

Click to play video 'Calgary pharmacists see increased flu shot demand amid COVID-19 pandemic' Calgary pharmacists see increased flu shot demand amid COVID-19 pandemic
Some Calgary pharmacists and private health care organizations have had an increase in inquiries and appointments for the flu shot this year. As Tracy Nagai reports, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta Health Services is asking people to pre-book their visits – Oct 15, 2020

Some Calgary pharmacists said they’re seeing a spike in demand for the flu shot this year, likely fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Cambrian Pharmacy in Calgary’s northwest, pharmacists said they’re already booking appointments into next month.

For sure the demand is really, really high compared to previous years,” pharmacist Mathieu Giroux said. “We’re already booked into November, that’s every 10 minutes of every day.”

People who never had the [flu] shot in the past, for the first time in 60 years, they want it this year. “

Due to the pandemic, the province will be rolling out flu vaccinations differently.

Read more: ‘When can I get the flu shot in Alberta?’ And other questions, answered

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Starting on Oct. 19, Alberta Health Services (AHS) will only offer the vaccine through pre-booked appointments for children under five and their family and household members.

Seniors and vulnerable populations were able to receive their shot starting Oct. 13 by speaking with their doctor or pharmacist.

Click to play video 'No drop-in flu shot clinics in Alberta this year' No drop-in flu shot clinics in Alberta this year
No drop-in flu shot clinics in Alberta this year – Oct 8, 2020

Calgary senior Susan MacDonald said it was especially important for her to get the flu shot this year in order to protect herself and those around her.

I had H1N1 and it was absolutely horrific,” MacDonald said. “I just think it’s important everyone be responsible.”

Read more: One pharmacy worries COVID-apathy could lead to a spike in flu cases

McDonald hopes with COVID-19 and the spread of germs at the forefront, others will get their flu vaccine to reduce the amount of people in the hospital.

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“We had a friend who had [COVID-19] for several weeks and he couldn’t do anything.”

“Everybody’s worried about it and if you’re not, you’re not really following the science.” 

The province said it’s ordered more doses of the vaccine this year and will get more if supplies begin to dwindle.

Read more: How long does it take to recover from coronavirus? Experts say many variables at play

“Alberta’s government has ordered a record 1.96 million doses of vaccine to support the pandemic response and an expected increase in Albertans wanting to be immunized,” said Tom McMillian with Alberta Health.

“We continually monitor the provincial supply and will procure additional doses if needed in the weeks and months ahead.”