‘TIDAL WAVE’: Demand for Influenza Vaccines Amid Rise of COVID


Those looking to get a flu shot will be less panicked than those who wanted to stock up on toilet paper as supplies dwindled on store shelves.But that doesn’t mean the demand for the flu vaccine is low.

A Toronto pharmacist, owner of four Shoppers Drug Mart franchises in the Greektown area, said Monday there was enough flu shot for everyone.

John Papastergiou added that he didn’t want to see people getting their flu shots in the same panic as shoppers stocking toilet paper.

“(The government) bought about 30% more pictures this year; we were expecting a big jump right out of the gate, ”Papastergiou said.

“Having said that, I don’t think this amount of demand will be sustainable throughout flu season. He will die, (although) you hear the term ‘twindemic’ and with COVID in full swing.

More than 13 million doses of the vaccine have been ordered this year, up from 11.2 million in 2019, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

Ontario orders 5.1 million doses – about 700,000 more than last year, as well as 1.3 million high-dose vaccines for seniors and those with weakened immune systems.

“There was a tidal wave of demand almost immediately,” Papastergiou said. “On Thursday, a site did 500 flu shots. Some stores have already received more than 2,000 flu shots.

“It would be close to what we did for the whole of last year in the first week and a half,” he added.

The Ontario Ministry of Health distributes the vaccine in waves to pharmacies, doctor’s offices and city-run influenza clinics throughout the season.

There are 101 Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ontario do both COVID-19 swab testing for asymptomatic patients and influenza vaccine.

Papastergiou said it was a challenge, with social distancing, given that only a certain number of people are allowed in the store at a time.

“The models are a little different – COVID testing is based on appointments… but we keep it separate from incoming traffic for the flu,” he said.

Papastergiou said he suggests people go to the buyers’ website to see which pharmacies have stocks of the vaccine.

Rexall said he expects strong demand for the flu vaccine as well.

“We are confident in the current supply levels for the influenza vaccine,” spokesman Andrew Forgione said.

Dr Vinita Dubey, of Toronto Public Health, said community flu shot clinics will run until December and appointments must be booked.

“Getting the flu shot can also reduce the number of people who need COVID-19 testing, because the symptoms are very similar,” Dubey said.

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