Spike in demand for the flu shot resulting in long line-ups and vaccine shortages at some pharmacies

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Pharmacies in Ontario are seeing a spike in demand for the flu shot. This has resulted in long line-ups and a shortage of the flu vaccine at some locations.

For weeks now, public health officials have been encouraging people to get the flu shot, but it seems people are showing up to get the vaccine, only to find out that some pharmacies have already run out.

In a statement, Shoppers Drug Mart says in part, "It's understandable that there's currently increased concern around flu season, so demand for vaccines is high. We're continuing to restock regularly and recommend patients visit shoppersdrugmart.ca/flu to find out where shots are available." 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when the vaccine is available at a Shoppers Drug Mart location near you.

Loblaws, Shoppers parent company, says in a statement, "We have strong supply chain, however actual supply of the vaccine is managed by the Ministry of Health and we expect there to be adequate availability throughout the season. We're asking customers to be patient as we continue to work hard to make vaccines available to Canadians."

Meantime, one pharmacist, speaking with our media partner CP24, spoke about the surge in demand for the flu shot: "First of all, there's been a lot more awareness of getting the flu shot, but more importantly, I think it's been because of the COVID pandemic. A lot of people want to stay protected and making sure that they're healthy over the winter. The flu is one of the top ten causes of death in Canada and it results in about 3,500 deaths per year, as well as 12,000 hospitalizations. So, it is very important for everyone to get the flu vaccine, so that the demands on the hospitals and the surge on the healthcare system, can be reduced."

The ministry of health, meanwhile, says it has ordered 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories - 700,000 more than the approximate usage last year. 

That includes 1.3 million high vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions.


With files from CP24