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Some GTA pharmacies report running out of flu shots

Shoppers Drug Mart at King Street near Spadina Avenue. CITYNEWS

With flu season upon us and demand expected to be high for the flu shot, it appears that some pharmacies in the province have already run out of doses.

After contacting multiple Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy locations, at least three locations in the GTA, at King Street and Spadina Avenue, Yonge and Charles Streets and at Rutherford Mall in Vaughan, reported they were already out of flu shots.

Others have reported long line-ups and a lack of appointments available until at least the weekend.

A CityNews viewer also reported going to three different Shoppers in Ottawa before she received a flu shot. She had pre-registered to get the shot, but still had to wait over an hour indoors.

Shoppers Drug Mart began their staggered rollout of the flu shot on Wednesday.

An associate owner and pharmacist at a Shoppers Drug Mart in east-end Toronto, Victor Wong, said earlier this week, requests for the flu shot
“have been off the charts,” with some customers asking about its arrival since the summer.

He expected demand to be high at his store after hearing some doctors are skipping the season entirely.

“We have local doctors, even within our close proximity, who have already phoned us to let us know that they will not be opening up their clinics this year for flu shots or will be diverting their flu shot patients to our store,” says Wong, whose store delivered more than 600 flu shots last year

In Ontario, the Ontario Medical Association says 55 per cent of flu shots are delivered by physicians, 40 per cent by pharmacies, and 5 per cent by corporate employers who provide them to their workforce. Data was insufficient on the remaining 5 per cent.

The Ford government has also made encouraging Ontario residents to get the flu shot part of the province’s plan to combat COVID-19 and have spent $70 million to purchase 5.1 million doses of the flu vaccine – 700,000 more than the previous year.

This year, the Public Health Agency of Canada says more than 13 million doses have been ordered, a jump from last season’s 11.2 million doses.

Ten per cent of that is the high-dose influenza vaccine – itself a 25 per cent increase from last season as public health focuses on inoculating more adults 65 years and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from flu and COVID-19.