Ottawa pharmacies report 'unprecedented' surge in demand for flu shot, people wait hours for vaccine
OTTAWA -- A surge in demand for the seasonal flu vaccine amid the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people waiting hours in line for the shot, and pharmacies struggling to keep up.
For anyone looking to get a flu shot this season, patience is key.
"Unprecedented is a word we use a lot, but that’s truly what this week has been like," said Jordan Clark, owner and Pharmacist of Shoppers Drug Mart in Westboro.
"Just a huge response of people looking to come into the store, looking to book appointments, looking for flu shots."
Peak wait times at the Shoppers on Richmond Road in Westboro are between an hour and an hour and a half.
While many in line said they don’t mind waiting, in some instances, pharmacies are running out of the vaccine temporarily.
"What some people are experiencing are just gaps, so for example part of a day, until part of the next day, where they aren’t going to be able to have that dose but we are replenishing it as quickly as we can," said Clark.
While pharmacies like Shoppers are able to replenish stock, there is some concern amongst physicians they won’t be able to do the same.
"We do not have adequate supply in my office, and so many of my colleagues across Ontario are in the same situation," said Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, a family physician.
Dr. Kaplan-Myrth said she only received enough doses of the vaccine to last the week. She fears she won’t be able to get more for that least the next month.
“We would all be feeling much more supported and assured that we’re going to be able to do what we’re supposed to do if we knew that we had the supply," said Dr. Kaplan-Myrth.
The Ontario Ministry of Health said this year’s flu immunization campaign is the largest in the province’s history. It says distribution of the vaccine is still underway across the province and will continue for the coming weeks.
The province said additional doses of the vaccine will be purchased as required.