Nova Scotia orders more flu shots to meet higher demand
Published Friday, September 11, 2020 9:41PM ADT Last Updated Friday, September 11, 2020 9:46PM ADT
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's health minister says the province has upped its flu vaccine order this year in anticipation of a higher demand.
The program itself won't be rolled out until flu season in October, but one pharmacist says his patients are already looking to roll up their sleeves.
"I've definitely had people asking me about the flu shot," pharmacist Jamie Flynn said. "When's it ready. Is it ready? Is it available yet?"
Interest, he believes is linked to COVID-19, and so are his questions.
Last year he set up flu shot clinics in seniors homes and offices, but this year's different.
"I'm not sure exactly how that's going to change this year and if that's still going to be possible and what changes are going to be done to make that a reality," Flynn said.
Nova Scotia's health minister Randy Delorey says despite COVID its flu program isn't changing a lot this year.
The vaccine will be free and available at clinics, pharmacies or doctors' offices like before.
"We do have an adequate supply on order that we be able to meet the needs of those in the province," said Delorey.
The province is anticipating a spike in demand.
"We've increased our order by between 3.5 and 4 per cent over last year which we've been on an upward trend over the last number of years," he said.
Dr. Karina Top of the IWK's Division of Infectious Diseases says "the worst case scenario would be that we have a bad flu season on top of a surge of COVID."
While the flu vaccine can't protect you from COVID, Dr. Top believes there are upsides.
"If you do get the flu shot, you're much less likely to get flu and COVID at the same time," Dr. Top said.
Experts often look to the southern hemisphere to predict how the flu will fare here. While Australia didn't have a bad flu season, one theory is because COVID forced people wear masks, wash their hand and stay away from one another.
"We can't be sure that what we've seen what they've seen in Australia is the same we'll see here," Dr. Top said.
Last March, COVID didn't cancel Flynn's flu shot appointments, he just wore personal protective equipment and cleaned more.
"It certainly changed things, but it didn't stop us from delivering flu shot," Flynn said.