Windsor

Flu vaccine coming to Windsor-Essex later than expected, says pharmacist

Peter Dunn has stage 3 lymphoma and says he purchased the flu vaccine from the U.S. because it's not expected to come to Windsor and Essex County until mid-November.

'In this time of the year, especially with the delay that it is, we have to be conscientious,' says Tim Brady

The provincial government says the flu vaccine will be distributed throughout Ontario in mid-October, but a representative with the Windsor Family Health Team says vaccine stock may not arrive until early November. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

The flu vaccine may be coming to Windsor and Essex County later than expected, according to a board member for the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

"The usual release date is mid-October. But what we're hearing now is possibly closer to mid-November that it should be released this year," said Tim Brady.

The World Health Organization — which recommends the specific strain of influenza to vaccinate against ahead of each flu season — delayed its recommendations by one month, pushing back manufacturing for this year.

Brady, who works as a pharmacist in Essex, said the delay is going to put health officials in a "conundrum," since the first people who require the vaccine are those who are most at risk, including babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

"In this time of the year, especially with the delay that it is, we have to be conscientious — not for just ourselves, but for those around us," said Brady.

Need a vaccine? Cross the border, advises one man

For many, getting the flu can mean spending a few weeks sick at home. But for Peter Dunn, the flu can force him to check into a hospital because "you can't fight it."

That's because he has stage 3 lymphoma, which requires Dunn to make weekly trips to Windsor Regional Hospital for blood work following significant chemotherapy which has weakened his immune system.

That also means he needs the flu vaccine earlier than most.

Peter Dunn, who lives with lymphoma, says he needs to get the flu shot early because his immune system is compromised. However, it's impossible because vaccine stock isn't coming until mid-October. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

"My doctor said it's not available for a few weeks, but maybe you should call Health Canada," said Dunn, adding he did just that.

Dunn said a representative from Health Canada told him the flu vaccine won't be available until mid-October. When Dunn mentioned the flu vaccine is currently in stock in Detroit, Health Canada told him he's within his rights to cross the border and buy it.

"Me and my wife went over to Detroit a week and a half ago and we bought the flu shot — when I need it — and a lot of people are going to need it," said Dunn, adding the vaccine cost approximately $40.

Acquiring flu vaccines from the U.S. not the best solution

While travelling to Detroit was an option for Dunn, Brady said heading to the U.S. during this delay to get a flu shot isn't the best alternative.

That's because American health specialists may not be providing patients with the proper dosage for this year's flu season, Brady said.

Instead, he advises people simply take precautionary measures to keep the flu away, like washing your hands often, not touching your face and staying home when you're sick to prevent spreading germs to others.

"Do whatever you can, so you don't get sick in the first place."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sanjay Maru is a reporter at CBC Windsor. Email him at sanjay.maru@cbc.ca.

with files from CBC British Columbia

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