Flu shots across Nova Scotia in high demand
Health officials say demand doesn't mean there's a shortage
Nova Scotia health officials say a spike in demand flu vaccine demand means there have been more flu shots administered than were originally planned for this season.
Dr. Frank Atherton, the deputy chief medical officer of health, said families have flocked to pharmacies this year to get vaccinated against the flu, embracing the new program allowing pharmacists to give flu shots.
"When we planned for the flu season this year we predicted that maybe 20,000 people would choose to use pharmacies and we allocated that amount of vaccine to pharmacies," he said.
"What's actually transpired is pharmacies have been much more popular than we expected and so actually nearly 60,000 people have chosen to access through the pharmacy outlet."
Atherton said that doesn't mean the province is experiencing a vaccine shortage.
He said Nova Scotia ordered 435,000 doses of the vaccine this year, which is the most the province has ever brought in.
The flu vaccine has been in high demand following reports at least 12 people have died from H1N1 strain this year in B.C. and Alberta, and hundreds of others are seriously ill. Health officials say the H1N1 strain is particularly dangerous for young people who may not have immunity to the potentially fatal strain.
There is also concern that the high demand for the vaccine will result in shortages in the western provinces.
Dr. Perry Kendall, the provincial health officer for British Columbia, said there is no shortage of the flu vaccine at the present time. He noted if demand for the flu vaccine remains high, it could outpace supply this year.
Kendall said the remaining flu vaccines will be moved around the province to different areas as needed, but many pharmacies and clinics across the province are already reporting they have run out.
In Regina, some clinics have run out.
The Alberta government has secured an additional 65,000 doses but that is expected to run out by the end of the week.
The Nova Scotia health officials have told CBC News it has 10,000 doses of vaccine in reserve and is freeing up 1,300 doses to send to other provinces experiencing shortages.