The demand for a high-dose flu vaccine intended for people over the age of 65 has doctors’ offices and pharmacies in B.C. handing out doses almost as fast as they can stock them.
Fluzone HD has four times the amount of antigens than a regular flu shot.
Dr. Alex Dar Santos said the last shipment that arrived at his Richmond pharmacy had only five doses, and, like others, he’s running a waitlist pages long.
“I ran out very early,” Dar Santos told Global News on Monday. “The people that I was able to distribute it to — they came in the same day.”
Family doctors and pharmacists who spoke to Global News said many seniors want the $80 vaccine for peace of mind.
“I was lucky,” Roberta Morrison said. “I think all seniors should get it — it’s more protective.
“The pharmacist told me it covers several different strains, but I’m lucky I can afford it because some people can’t. And it is not covered by my extended insurance, either.”
Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s seniors’ advocate, said not everyone will have the same luck.
“I do feel for the seniors who want to get Fluzone for a variety of reasons this year,” she said. “For the general public, it may be difficult to obtain. There is the regular flu shot that they can get and hopefully that will bring them some comfort.”
The province has secured 45,000 doses for people in long-term care or assisted living to help avoid a “twin-demic” amid COVID-19.
Regular flu shots are sourced through the regional health authorities, but Fluzone comes through wholesalers or private distribution channels.
People who are still searching for a dose should not wait, and simply get whatever vaccine you can right away, Dar Santos said.
“People are getting the regular one because it is a sure thing and that is my advice,” he said. “We don’t know if or when Fluzone is coming back and how late. If you can get the regular one, do it now. ”
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ontario is the only jurisdiction for the 2020-21 season where the vaccine is being provided to all seniors as part of the publicly funded influenza vaccine program.