OPH flu shot clinics see nearly 5-fold increase
Clinics closing Friday as public health officials start turning attention to COVID-19 vaccine
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) saw nearly five times as many people roll up their sleeves for an influenza shot at its clinics this year compared to last, the city's medical officer of health says.
When the flu vaccination campaign launched in September, Dr. Vera Etches said she hoped to see 70 per cent of the city's population inoculated to avoid the possibility of a "twindemic," with both influenza and COVID-19 surging simultaneously.
We have been successful in keeping the transmission of influenza within our community to very low levels.- Dr. Vera Etches
In a letter to city council Tuesday, Etches said OPH flu clinics vaccinated 55,500 residents this year, compared to 11,321 last year.
At the same time, 261,512 doses have been distributed to primary care providers and pharmacies are expected to vaccinate another 200,000 people, OPH said, putting the city on track for an inoculation rate of about 52 per cent of the its population this flu season.
"So far as a community we have been successful in keeping the transmission of influenza within our community to very low levels," said Etches in her letter to council.
"This is in large part due to residents' adherence to COVID-19 precautions, and your help in getting the word out to the community about mask use and physical distancing and the importance of getting the flu vaccine this year."
The OPH clinics were somewhat of a trial run for the eventual distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, and for the first time most recipients had to first register for an appointment to get a flu shot. Health-care workers have already started receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and it's expected to be distributed to the general public over the next several months.
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OPH plans to shut down its flu clinics on Friday, however the flu vaccine is still available at doctors' offices and pharmacies, and OPH will still administer second doses to children into January.
"I encourage all residents who have not yet received their flu shot to do so," said Etches.
With flu clinics shutting down, OPH said staff will now begin focusing on meningitis, hepatitis B and HPV immunization for Grade 7 students before turning their attention to the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.