Island Health and pharmacies across Vancouver Island are preparing for the upcoming flu season. ISLAND HEALTH PHOTO

Island Health and pharmacies across Vancouver Island are preparing for the upcoming flu season. ISLAND HEALTH PHOTO

Supply shortage of flu vaccine in Alberni Valley should be brief: Island Health

Health authority, pharmacies will launch flu shot campaigns in the next week

A supply shortage of flu vaccine should be alleviated as Island Health (VIHA) gets set to launch its annual public vaccination campaign.

“It’s a provincewide shortage, but we’ve got shipments coming in,” said Candace Sanders, pharmaceutical technician at Tyler’s No Frills.

While the pharmacy has received a shipment this week and expects another before week’s end, they are typically smaller as the supply chain catches up with a backlog, she said. They’ve been compiling a wait list of customers as vaccination season gets going.

The shortage is temporary and not unusual for this time of year, said Island Health spokesman Dominic Abassi. A manufacturer’s delay in early October led to the shortfall, he said.

“It does take a little time to deliver to our community providers,” Abassi said.

Island Health distributes the vaccine to pharmacies and clinics in the region based on quantities ordered. Higher demand can also affect supply.

“It should not be a factor” in this season’s immunization, Abassi added. “It’s not too late. We’re just getting into the period.”

Influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels as of mid-October, according to the latest Flu Watch update from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Standard flu vaccines are available for free at most B.C. pharmacies starting in October. Island Health advises seniors age 65 and older to get vaccinated because they may be at higher risk of complications from influenza.

VIHA launches its annual vaccination campaign on Monday to encourage more people to get their flu shots.