Kingston pharmacies experience high demand for flu shots early this year amid COVID-19

Kingston, Ont., pharmacies are experiencing a huge early demand for the flu shot — which has now led to a temporary shortage in some areas.

Because of this, the Ontario College of Family Physicians is letting people know it’s OK to wait as the flu season doesn’t begin until closer to December.

The need for flu shots is higher than ever as many are trying to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some pharmacists in Kingston say the number of people coming in to get their flu shot has doubled compared to previous years.

“I would recommend calling ahead first to make sure that your local Shoppers Drug Mart does have supply available,” says Adam Doyle, a pharmacist and associate owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Kingston.

Other pharmacies in the area say they have run out of the vaccine temporarily.

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Read more: When and where to get the flu shot in Ontario this fall

“We got our initial supply and it ran out very quickly and now we have a wait list of a couple hundred people,” said Leonard Chan, a pharmacist at a Pharmasave in Inverary.

“I’m happy people are interested in getting the flu shot but it’s been crazy.”

Many health-care providers across Ontario are also offering the flu shot to patients by appointment, which could help reduce the impact on pharmacies.

“If you haven’t gotten the flu shot before, this is the year to get it,” said Chan.

Even though the vaccine is in short supply in some areas of Ontario, Dr. Elizabeth Muggah says people shouldn’t worry, as the Ontario government has planned for the increase in demand for flu shots.

Muggah, the president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, says there will be more shipments arriving throughout October and November.

Read more: Kingston, Belleville pharmacies offer asymptomatic COVID-19 testing

“The flu doesn’t really peak until December so we have time to get that flu shot. So, you may choose to wait a little bit now, especially if you are not in a high-risk group.”

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Muggah says those considered high risk include people over the age of 65, those with chronic illnesses and pregnant women.

“You do have time to wait and not have to deal with that frustration of calling around to find the  vaccine.”

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