Although it may seem like flu shots are in short supply, according to Island Health, there is not a flu vaccine shortage, but rather a delay that was expected.
Some adult flu vaccines are late to arrive on the Island from the BC Centre for Disease Control this year as a result of a shipping delay with the manufacturer, said a spokesperson for Island Health.
The vaccines have begun to arrive in health units and will continue to be shipped to the Island in weekly deliveries.
Dr. Paul Hasselback, a medical health officer for Island Health, explained that millions of vaccines can’t all arrive at once and that the delay is simply a result of logistical issues.
“There will be plenty of vaccines for everyone,” he noted.
Due to the higher volume of vaccines in recent years, the focus has shifted from delivery in September to later in the fall. Which Hasselback says is fine because while flu shot season is October through November, flu season itself begins in late December and lasts until April.
All 250,000 vaccines are expected to have arrived in clinics, pharmacies and physicians’ offices on Vancouver Island by Nov. 14, said Hasselback.
According to him, the delay isn’t cause for worry. As long as people get vaccinated before the end of November, they’ll be protected. The vaccine remains the best way to protect against influenza and Hasselback feels this year’s vaccine is a good match for the strains.
Hasselback noted that Australia has a difficult flu season this year and was hit hard by a new strain of influenza in April. The country struggled to deal with the surplus of people in hospital, he said.
The Canadian vaccine will include protection against the strain that Australia struggled to manage, Hasselback confirmed.
The flu continues to be the communicable disease that causes the most hospitalizations and deaths, “even in a mild year,” Hasselback cautioned. Those over 65, between the six months and 5 years of age or who have an illness requiring ongoing medical care should get vaccinated, said Hasselback. Anyone who interacts with these groups or is pregnant should also be inoculated.