Alberta pharmacist stresses importance of flu shot ahead of the holidays

An Edmonton pharmacist said he’s seeing fewer people coming through the doors for their flu shots this year compared to previous years, and he hopes to see that change.

New numbers released Thursday afternoon show just over one million Albertans — 22.5 per cent of the population — have received an influenza vaccine this season.

Alberta has recorded 5,163 lab-confirmed cases of the flu so far this year and 16 deaths from influenza, according to Alberta Health.

That’s an increase from 3,647 lab-confirmed cases of the flu and 12 flu-related deaths recorded at this time last week.

Read more: Health experts worried about Alberta’s low flu vaccine uptake: ‘We are seeing healthy kids brought down’

VIDA Pharmacy manager Vishav Singh said he would like to see more people coming in for their flu shots.

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“It’s relatively steady. It’s not a big uptick,” he said Thursday. “We need more people coming up, getting their flu shot done.”

He believes vaccine fatigue may be playing a role, after a couple of years of COVID vaccine rollouts. He also thinks some people may have already gotten the flu this year and don’t think they need a flu vaccine.

“If you’re feeling better now after your flu or you haven’t got the flu and no flu shot yet, please come to down to pharmacy, get your flu shot,” Singh said.

“The percentage of people getting flu shot this year, or last couple of years, is way down as compared to the pre-COVID era.”

Click to play video: 'Health experts concerned about Alberta’s low flu vaccine uptake'

Health experts concerned about Alberta’s low flu vaccine uptake

The pharmacist stressed it’s particularly important to protect yourself, and those around you, heading into the holidays.

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“You’re going to go visit your families and friends. You don’t want to make other people sick,” he said.

Read more: Alberta’s top doctor warns parents about concerning, ‘severe’ flu season

Children’s Tylenol starting to hit the shelves

After months without any infant and kids’ Tylenol and Advil, Singh said he’s finally starting to get some stock in, although the supply hasn’t been entirely restored.

Singh said his pharmacy received six bottles of infant Tylenol and six bottles of children’s Tylenol a few days ago.

“Finally we got some Tylenol for infants and kids back on the shelf. The supply is getting a bit better now but still we don’t have any Advil for kids and infants. I heard some places did get some so it’s coming back but it’s not where it should be,” he explained.

“When I ordered it, I went back and tried to order a couple of more bottles but it was wiped out already… Hopefully it becomes normal and there’s more Tylenol and Advil for the kids and less stress for the parents.

“The supply is becoming better. So hopefully within the next week we are expecting a few more.”

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Read more: Canada secures more foreign shipments of kids’ pain medications amid ongoing shortage

With the current spread of viral illness, though, Singh said he’s starting to see short supply of adult cough syrups. And the products they are getting in are more expensive.

Influenza vaccines are available to anyone six months of age and older. More information on how to book your flu shot can be found on the Alberta Health Services website.

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