Flu vaccine is a rare commodity in Prince Rupert with waitlists at pharmacies after supplies in the city ran low in the days leading up to Nov. 12. A public health nurse gets ready to administer a flu shot Monday, Nov. 9 at the Quesnel and District Seniors’ Centre. (Black Press file photo)

Flu vaccine is a rare commodity in Prince Rupert with waitlists at pharmacies after supplies in the city ran low in the days leading up to Nov. 12. A public health nurse gets ready to administer a flu shot Monday, Nov. 9 at the Quesnel and District Seniors’ Centre. (Black Press file photo)

Wait lists for flu shots as supplies run dry

Local pharmacies are supplied the flu vaccine by Northern Health

Prince Rupert has run dry of influenza vaccine and there is no determined date as to when supplies may be replenished many of the local suppliers said on Nov. 12 upon The Northern View inquiries.

Mask up, glove up and have your disinfectant wipes handy because it could be six-to-eight weeks before more supplies arrive in the area according to local pharmacies.

Media inquires to the local Northern Health Unit Clinic about the availability of flu shots in Prince Rupert were directed to the communications department in Prince George, with no call back from the local office.

The Northern Health communications department in Prince George directed The Northern View to the immunizeBC.ca web site under “Find a Flu Clinic,” where five Prince Rupert locations providing flu shots were listed. Included on the web page posting was a list of several dates and clinic times that were available at the Northern Health Unit Clinic.

Prince Rupert locations listed were Save-on-Foods Pharmacy, Safeway Pharmacy, Shoppers Drug Mart, Prince Rupert Northern Health Clinic and Walmart Pharmacy.

The Northern View investigated and found none of the listed locations had vaccines available in Prince Rupert, despite being posted as taking appointments or allowing drop-ins. Only one location on the list said they had influenza vaccine in stock.

Two pharmacy locations said they had been directing patients to Walmart Pharmacy as it had vaccine available and there were wait lists at their own locations which could extend into December. The shortage of the vaccine has led local pharmacies to halt online bookings.

However, Walmart Pharmacist Joe Bouchier told The Northern View on Nov. 12 that vaccine is very limited in supply and at his location what is in stock is already spoken for by people who have made appointments. Supplies would likely run out in a day or two based on bookings, he said.

Bouchier said that the local vaccine providers rely on Northern Health Authority for supplies and obtain the vaccine directly from them. There seems to be a temporary shortage of vaccine, he said.

“We rely on Northern Health to provide us with the medication, and if they don’t have any currently in stock and we go through it quite quickly, we can end up with a temporary shortage.”

“All the pharmacies get the stock from them [Health Clinic],” he said.”We don’t know [when more will come] until they tell us that they have it.”

“All of the pharmacies get their stock from them,” Bouchier said.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

A call to the Northern Health Clinic to inquire about booking for one of the eight clinic times they listed as available generated the response that all of the clinics were completely booked, no more appointments would be provided at this time, and there are no flu shots available. The caller was directed to call one of the city pharmacies.

However, after inquiries from The Northern View, Northern Health communications advisor Haylee Seiter said in a email late in the day that locations in Prince Rupert received additional vaccine during the day on Nov. 12.

“The Northern Health clinics are currently booked until Nov. 24 and are expecting more vaccine this month and in December. We will open up more appointments at the Health Unit next week for after Nov 24. We were not able to confirm if the three local pharmacies were out of the influenza vaccine. However, all three pharmacies received additional vaccine earlier today. It is anticipated they will receive more vaccine on approximately Nov. 16 and then again in December,” Seiter said.

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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