Kimberley residents who do not qualify for the publicly funded flu vaccine may have to wait a few weeks to get their flu shots after local pharmacies are reporting delays in the vaccines’ arrivals.
Privately funded influenza vaccines are typically available at the end of October or beginning of November, however a spokesperson for Kimberley’s pharmacy at Shoppers Drug Mart says they won’t be available until December.
“We’re not sure why, we just go off of what the supplier tells us,” said the spokesperson with Shoppers.
An article written by Black Press staff in Salmon Arm explains that high-priority populations should not be affected by the delay.
The article reads, “we are aware that the first delivery of this year’s vaccine, scheduled for September, will be delayed. The full quantity of vaccine will be available in October, which will compensate for this delay,” states an email from Heather Amos, spokesperson for the BC Centre for Disease Control. “This means supplies for high priority populations including health-care workers, people in long-term care facilities, and people at high risk due to underlying medical conditions should not be affected.”
There are several different pharmaceutical companies that manufacture privately funded vaccines, including GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) and Sanofi. Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy personnel confirmed that these two companies typically distribute to Kimberley.
A communications spokesperson with Sanofi says that they have begun fulfilling private market orders in B.C. and that the vaccines will arrive in time for the core flu season.
“[Sanofi] will continue to ship all orders by early December. This is in time to met the peak flu activity which usually occurs between December and February,” they said.
The Bulletin also reached out to Interior Health for comment. Their media department replied saying they are not aware of a delay or shortage in the area.
Michelle Smolenaars Hunter, Communications and Community Engagement Manager for GSK, says that the Canadian market won’t be receiving their vaccines for privately funded programs this year.
She says vaccines manufacturing is a complex process that involves many steps and can take between 10 to 26 months to complete. Shortages can happen for a variety of reasons, including unexpected demand, supply chain disruptions or production issues.
“For the 2019/2020 season, the expected yield of doses of GSK’s influenza vaccines will be less than planned. Therefore, GSK has made the decision to prioritize supply for the public market, which has programs geared towards vaccinating a large population of Canadians, including those who are at the highest risk of contracting influenza,” explained Smolenaars Hunter. “Consequently, we will regrettably be unable to supply the Canadian private market with influenza vaccine this season.”
She adds that supply status for the Flulaval Tetra vaccine is available on the Drug Shortages Canada Website at www.drugshortagescanada.ca, where updates will be posted on a regular basis.
Those who do qualify for the publicly funded vaccines have several opportunities to receive their immunization. Many people qualify for the publicly funded vaccine.
There are several clinics scheduled in Kimberley including one on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at Centennial from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.. Kimberley residents can also get immunized at The Kimberley Health Centre on Thursday, November 14, 2019 from 1 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., or visit a local pharmacy at their convenience.
There is a long list of eligibility requirements for the publicly funded vaccine, all of which are available online. Some include, but aren’t limited to, children six months to less than five years of age, pregnant women, those 65 years and older, those with medical conditions, aboriginal people, those at high risk or those working in health care locations.
With files from Martha Wickett, Salmon Arm Observer.