Fall is here, bringing with it flu vaccine distribution in Westman, and so far demand for the jab appears to remain high in 2021.
Last year Home Health Care Pharmacy saw a sharp uptick in those seeking to get vaccinated for the flu, said owner and pharmacist Mark Mercure, and this year appears like it could be similar.
Home Health Care received its first shipment of flu vaccines earlier than usual this year and has been able to jump into distribution right away, dolling out their first doses on Tuesday, Mercure said.
“The first couple of days have gone really well and we’ve had a lot of full appointments,” he said.
It is difficult to compare demand and distribution to last year as many procedures were changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020 Home Health Care partnered with other pharmacies in the region to procure a large space, ensuring they adhered to social distancing protocols. He added it was a different situation in 2020 as COVID-19 vaccines had not yet been released in Canada.
He saw a huge increase in those seeking out flu shots last year, with many largely motivated by COVID-19.
In November 2020 The Brandon Sun reported Prairie Mountain Health ordered 22,440 flu vaccine doses in September. That number was up from 19,000 in 2019, but still not high enough to fill local demand. Overall the province distributed 550,000 flu vaccine doses, 68 per cent more in comparison to the same time in 2019 and 20 per cent more overall than 2019.
Mercure added if the trends of the first week continue, the region will likely see a rise in flu shots like what was seen in 2020.
“We’re expecting interest to be high like last year, but it’s too early to tell,” Mercure said.
Demand for the shots has been high and to accommodate community needs Home Health Care Pharmacy used a list of emails from people who had previously gotten shots to set appointments. The list filled quickly with people they knew were interested.
“The most common thing is people who have already made the decision to get the flu shot every year,” Mercure said.
Mercure encouraged everyone to sign up for their flu shot jab as it plays an important role in limiting the spread of the virus. Preventing the spread of the flu is especially important this year with the potential significant strain hospitals will continue to face due to COVID-19.
“That was a big reason last year that we wanted people to get it. Not only to protect themselves but to protect their neighbours and protect the hospitals who were extra busy with this new reality of COVID,” Mercure said.
Most people will feel fine after receiving their flu shot. There are minimal side effects to expect, including a sore arm that affects the minority of patients.
“It’s a very safe thing to get,” Mercure said. “I got it yesterday and I couldn’t even tell you which arm it was in it was so easy.”
Home Health Care Pharmacy is currently taking flu shot appointments online. Booking appointments online allows for an efficient visit to the pharmacy and most paperwork needed for the jab can be filled out in advance. Walk-in appointments may be available in the future if demand diminishes.
“I would encourage everyone to get a flu shot … To keep themselves and everyone in the community protected,” he said.
The Brandon Sun requested an interview with Prairie Mountain Health. The organization did not respond by press time.
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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun