Local pharmacies have run out of vaccine in the middle of what’s become a bad year for the flu.
Your family physician is your best bet for a vaccine — the Oceanside Health Centre’s urgent care facility does not provide vaccinations.
Island Health reports it distributed more than 200,000 doses of vaccine (209,000 as of mid-December) — a 12 per cent increase over last year. Since Dec. 1, 2013, there have been 57 people in Island Health hospitals who have tested positive for influenza. Island Health officials say there are 21 people currently in hospital with lab-confirmed influenza (eight in Nanaimo).
Island Health says there have been two deaths in hospitals where influenza is suspected to have been a contributing factor, one in late December and one last week. One patient was aged 20-65 with underlying health conditions and the other patient was over the age of 80.
“Supplies are getting low after two months, particularly since seeing a significant spike in demand in the past couple of weeks,” Island Health’s Val Wilson said in an e-mail to The NEWS. “There still is a limited supply of vaccine available at this point. We are monitoring supplies and moving them around to resupply sites as needed. We did distribute a shipment of additional vaccine doses (last) week.”
All the local pharmacies that were given vaccines, and Family Place in Parksville, reported Monday they were out of stock.
“Any one of them may not have a supply left, but in total we may have a fair bit left on the Island,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, Central Island medical health officer.
“The best protection (against the flu) is hand washing, personal hygiene and staying away from others when you are sick so they don’t get sick.”
Hasselback said the age of those infected is what makes this flu season different from others. More people ages 20-65 seem to be getting the flu, compared to other recent years, he said.
The places that have run out of vaccine this year in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region are: Pharmasave in Qualicum Beach, Save-On-Foods pharmacy in Parksville, Family Place in Parksville, Shopper Drug Mart in Parksville and Nanoose Medical Centre.