Ottawa Public Health says it’s out of high-dose flu vaccines for seniors

Ottawa Public Health says it's run out of the high-dose flu shot, though some pharmacies in the city might still have it in stock. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Ottawa Public Health has distributed all doses of a specialized flu vaccine targeted at seniors, according to a memo sent to city council on Tuesday.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said in the memo that OPH has run out of its high-dose trivalent (HD-TIV) vaccine for the 2020-2021 influenza season.

OPH can therefore no longer provide HD-TIV to local physicians or to patients directly via the public health unit’s community clinics.

Read more: Bookings now open for Ottawa Public Health flu shot clinics

HD-TIV is a specialized higher dose vaccination aimed at people aged 65 years and older.

OPH doesn’t procure any of its vaccines directly. Rather, it receives an allotment from the provincial government.

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Etches said the Ministry of Health informed OPH that the province also already distributed its full order of HD-TIV, and that public health units should not expect to receive additional doses.

OPH will still be able to distribute doses of the quadrivalent (QIV) vaccine at its community clinics, provided the province’s weekly shipment comes through.

Etches said that anyone especially intent on getting the high-dose vaccine could still call local pharmacies to see if they still have HD-TIV in stock.

Her recommendation, however, is that seniors focus on getting any flu vaccination sooner than later. She also cited a statement from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization saying there is “insufficient evidence” that people aged 65 and older would benefit more from one vaccine or the other.

“Both vaccines are effective and recommended for seniors. The most important thing is for seniors to get the vaccine that is available in their location without delay,” Etches said.

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Ontario’s $70-million influenza strategy this year has been plagued with supply issues, as pharmacies have been forced to cancel appointments due to shortages in vaccine doses.

Demand for flu shots is up 500 per cent this year, according to the Ontario Pharmacists Association, as public health officials urge residents to inoculate themselves against the seasonal flu to avoid overwhelming the province’s health-care system amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

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