Pharmacist says increased demand for flu vaccine 'astronomical'

·2 min read

A local pharmacist says his pharmacies are struggling to keep up with an 'astronomical' increase in demand for the yearly flu vaccine.

Tim Brady owns Brady's Drug Store in Belle River and Essex, and he says the latter store has a wait list for the vaccine of several hundred people.

CBC News spoke to Brady early last month, and he says if anything demand has only increased since then.

"Like I said a while ago, I've never seen so much interest in it. And overall, it just hasn't been abated," he said. "I probably did as many shots at the beginning of November than I did all last year."

At the time, his Belle River pharmacy had administered about 250 shots, and his Essex pharmacy was at 500.

Rexall pharmacies temporarily suspended flu shots last month because of shortages.

Brady, who is also the vice-chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says he's depending on daily vial deliveries from the province. A vial contains about 10 doses of the vaccine, and he's only getting about two vials per day.

"And so we basically go on the [wait] list, call the top 10 people and go from there," he said.

While the province is trying to secure more doses of the vaccine, Brady says he may actually be getting the nasal spray substitute soon.

"At this point, we'll take whatever we can get," he said.

While people looking for the vaccine are still welcome to call his pharmacies, Brady recommends that they contact the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit for direction or see if they can get it from their primary care provider.

But while the increased demand has put a strain on the supply, Brady says it's still a welcome change from previous years — he says many are getting the flu shot for the first time.

"It's a good thing. I'm glad people are interested in it," he said. "I'm hoping this will carry on if we have any other outgoing vaccines that are coming up for any other possible health issues that are presently in society."