The number of drug stores in Waterloo Region offering flu shots will quadruple this year as the public health department reduces the number of free public flu shot clinics.

Eighty-four pharmacies will offer the flu shot this year, up from 21 last year.

The move is expected to help the region save on costs, as the region scales back the number of free public flu clinics to eight from 14. The region says these clinics will be by appointment only.

Death from flu in the region is at the highest point it has been in the past six years. The latest numbers from Waterloo Region Public Health show 12 people died of flu last season.

The number of flu cases is also higher than previous years. In 2012-2013, the total number of lab confirmed cases was 392. From 2011-2012, it was 159.

Dr. Hsiu Li Wang, the associate medical officer of health with the region, says although being immunized does not give an absolute guarantee of protection from the flu, people should not be hesitant to get their shot.

“Being immunized gives you better protection overall,” said Wang. “If you were to imagine a population where no one was immunized, you would expect to see even greater numbers of deaths and cases.”