Alberta mulls buying private flu vaccine stock from pharmacies

The provincial government is still considering buying the flu vaccine from pharmacies that are selling their own supply.

Problem is it won't make much of a difference, province says

The province also said more than one million Albertans have been immunized so far, a record number. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

The provincial government is still considering buying the flu vaccine from pharmacies that are selling their own supply.

But it says there is really not enough out there to make much of a difference. However, the issue has sparked a provincewide debate.  

Many lining up for hours for a shrinking supply of the vaccine say they would prefer to just spend money for a quick shot.

"Where can I go? I'll pay right now," said Charles Hamel, who was among those in line.

He says every pharmacy he has been to is out of stock.

"I don't mind the two-tier [system] as long as I am in the good tier," he said. 

NDP Leader Brian Mason says that is not the way Canada's health-care system works.

He is criticizing pharmacies for providing their private stock at a cost.

But University of Calgary bioethicist Ian Mitchell doesn't see a problem. 

"If they are allowed to purchase it, I'm not sure why we would prevent them from selling it," he said. 

Liberal health critic David Swann, who is also a doctor, agrees.

He says passing along the company's costs are only fair — especially since the vaccine has been available since October and everyone had an opportunity to access it.

"I will certainly be asking questions if there are increasing numbers of our most vulnerable populations that are not protected," he said.

More than a million Albertans have now received this year's vaccine.

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