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Flu vaccine in short supply

Pharmacies in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows report running out of annual flu shots
Pharmacist Michael Damjanovic pushes air out of a needle before dispensing the flu vaccine at Alouette Pharmacy on Tuesday.

Reports that H1N1 is back this flu season caused a run on the vaccine, and some local pharmacies have run out of it and other supplies are dwindling.

Fraser Health is now advising people to call pharmacies and other providers to try and find a shot.

On Tuesday, London Drugs at Valley Fair Mall was completely out, waiting for a new supply, and had a waiting list of requests almost two pages long.

The pharmacy at Save-On Foods at the same mall was also out, and had 104 names on a waiting list.

The pharmacy at Save-On at Westgate Shopping Centre was down to eight doses, but four were already spoken for, and all would be accounted for by Friday, when that pharmacy offers injections.

One place with a supply of the vaccine was the Alouette Pharmacy on 227th Street, with 40 shots remaining.

Pharmacist Michael Damjanovic said it was his first year of doing vaccine injections. It was very busy when the shots were first offered, then died down for a few weeks. The supply was severely depleted the past two weeks, with reports about H1N1.

“A lot of people are calling back to ask whether the shot they received had H1N1 in it,” he said, confirming that it does.

Alouette Pharmacy only had shots for those 18 and older, and had run out of children’s shots.

“There are limited quantities of vaccine available in the community. Public health units and staff are trying to fill as many vaccine orders as possible, but all units are either out of stock or nearly out of supply,” said Erin Labbe of  Fraser Health. “We have just been notified that the province hopes to have additional doses available in the next two or three weeks, and we will be updating community vaccine providers when we have more details on that.”

The shortage in B.C. has been aggravated by Albertans visiting the province and getting a flu shot.

In Alberta, there have been at least nine deaths caused by H1N1.

A million vaccines have been given, and Alberta is out of stock.

Although about 40 people in the Fraser Health Authority are in intensive care wards, dealing with flu, there have been no deaths linked to H1N1 in the region to date. One death in the Okanagan has been attributed to the flu.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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