PEI

Flu shots being given out on P.E.I. early this year

Some P.E.I. pharmacists are already pricking people to prevent influenza.

P.E.I. Pharmacists Association recommends calling ahead for pandemic protocols

Typically, flu shots start being given right after Thanksgiving in October, says Erin MacKenzie, executive director of the P.E.I. Pharmacists Association. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Islanders will have earlier access to flu shots this fall.

The province, hoping to avoid a dual outbreak of COVID-19 and influenza, ordered vaccine early this year.

Typically flu shots start being given right after Thanksgiving in October, says Erin MacKenzie, executive director of the P.E.I. Pharmacists Association.

"We haven't seen any issues with ordering and receiving the vaccine to date and we don't expect any," she said.

Vaccines are ordered in waves and the first order arrived Friday, MacKenzie said.

"We do expect more to be replenished in the coming weeks."

MacKenzie says getting the vaccine and fighting the flu is fighting coronavirus as well because symptoms are similar. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

MacKenzie said she suspects there will be an increased demand for the flu vaccine this year.

"Which is a good thing," she said.

"We have to do everything as a population to try and prevent illness and make sure our health-care system can manage any outbreaks of COVID-19 down the road."

Fighting flu is fighting COVID

MacKenzie said fighting the flu is fighting coronavirus as well because symptoms are similar.

"By making sure we are preventing as much flu in the community as we can, we are limiting the amount of people that are going for testing, for example, or if people are ill we're limiting the numbers that are going to show up in the emergency department or in hospital looking for treatment," she said.

MacKenzie said there is also a high-dose shot being offered to seniors over the age of 65. Last year, she said that shot was only offered to seniors in long-term care.

Things will also be different at pharmacies when people get their shots because of COVID-19 health measures — people will have to be patient, MacKenzie said.

There are stands in the front foyer of Sherwood Drug Mart so people can fill out paperwork outside the store and have it done when they come in for a flu shot. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Rob MacLellan, a pharmacist and owner of Sherwood Drug Mart, said his pharmacy was giving flu vaccines Friday. 

"We're just glad it arrived, right, most people that have been in today have been very grateful."

He said some protocols have been put in place to ensure physical distancing.

"We do have an online option now, which we never had before," he said. "We are working the bugs out of that as well and so far so good."

Rob MacLellan, pharmacist and owner of Sherwood Drug Mart, says getting a flu shot may take longer this year because pharmacists are wearing more protective gear due to COVID-19. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

There are also stands in the front foyer of the pharmacy so people can fill out paperwork outside the store and have it done when they come in for the shot. People are also being encouraged to bring and use their own pen, and there is limited seating, MacLellan said.

"We have more PPE on this year, right. We have face shields, surgical masks, lots of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and all that sort of stuff. There is definitely more to it this year than previous years," he said.

The P.E.I. Pharmacists Association recommends people call ahead to make sure the pharmacy they are planning to go to has the vaccine in stock — and so that people know the specific pandemic protocols at the location.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Travis Kingdon

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