At the Juniper pharmacy in downtown Kelowna, B.C., flu vaccines are still available — but only for those 65 years of age and older.
“We’ve run out of the flu shots for 64 and under,” said pharmacist Craig Plain, adding the demand for flu vaccines is still high.
“We’re still getting five to 10 phone calls every day about the flu shot,” he said.
“It’s hard to say no to somebody. So when people do call, I do try to redirect them to other pharmacies where I suspect they might have some left over.”
Global News contacted 14 pharmacies across Kelowna on Tuesday to ask about the flu shot supply.
Seven said they had either run out or only had the flu vaccine for those 65 and older.
Those pharmacies added they didn’t know when, or if, they would be re-stocked.
It’s a sentiment that was echoed at the Juniper pharmacy.
“Our understanding is that the flu vaccines are depleted through our wholesalers, so we’re not expecting any more at the pharmacy level,” Plain told Global News.
In an email to Global News, the B.C. Pharmacy Association — which distributes the vaccine to pharmacies — said pharmacies have more than enough supply to meet the forecasted demand for influenza vaccines this year.
The association went on to say that in terms of ordering vaccines, supplies of flu vaccines were arriving with distributors Tuesday, and all pharmacies can place orders with their distributors.
It’s promising news, considering this year’s flu season has arrived a lot sooner than in years past.
“In the years before the pandemic, we were seeing these numbers usually increasing at the end of December in January and February,” said Dr. Fatemeh Sabet. “But now we are seeing a dramatic increase in November.”
Along with the increase in cases, the Interior Health Authority (IHA) says there’s been an increase in emergency visits.
“Among our pediatric population, we have seen a dramatic increase in emergency visits,” said Sabet.
“This rate has slightly decreased over the past two weeks for the pediatric population, but it continues to be high for the adult population.”
According to IHA, 20 per cent of the region’s population has received the flu vaccine, and it’s urging more people to get vaccinated.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Sabet.
“And I especially encourage children and families with children to get their vaccine. There is still time for you to get your influenza vaccination.”