British Columbia

H1N1 flu surge causes run on vaccine supply in B.C.

Albertans have been travelling west to pay for shots after many pharmacies there ran out

January 12, 2014

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Flu clinics are advising people seeking shots to call ahead, as the season's vaccine supply runs out  2:10

As the province's flu vaccine supply dwindles, health officials in B.C. are advising people still looking for flu shots to call clinics in advance.

In Metro Vancouver, some pharmacies reported Saturday that they were running very low or had already run out of this year's flu vaccine.


Doug Ma, a pharmacist at Pure Integrative Pharmacy in downtown Vancouver, told CBC News that he's never seen a flu season so busy.

"We ran out yesterday afternoon, which was a first time that's ever happened in the last couple of years," he said Saturday. "Even after that, we've been getting requests probably several times an hour, every hour."

"People have been calling around to multiple pharmacies, unable to find any," Ma said.

CBC's Farrah Merali gets a flu shot on Jan. 11, 2014. Pharmacists across B.C. are reporting that they are running out of the season's vaccine. (CBC)

A woman in the Okanagan died and more than a dozen people in the Fraser Valley remain in intensive care because of H1N1 flu. Fraser Health said that over 430,000 doses of vaccine have been distributed in the region since October.

In B.C.'s eastern regions, pharmacists have reported that Albertans are crossing the border looking for the flu vaccine, after many pharmacies in Alberta ran out and after Alberta Health Services closed its vaccination clinics Friday.

More than 1 million people got the current flu shot for free in Alberta, where at least nine people have died of H1N1 flu this season.  

With files from the CBC's Farrah Merali
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