TORONTO — The flu shot is now available across the province and pharmacies are dealing with a huge demand for the vaccine as Ontario copes with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and enters flu season.
In photos provided to CP24, people could be seen lining up to get the flu shot at Shoppers Drug Mart locations across Toronto on Saturday morning.
There are reports that some of the pharmacy locations across the GTA are experiencing a shortage of the vaccine.
Loblaws, who operates Shoppers Drug Mart, said it is working diligently to make the vaccine available for all Canadians.
“We’re continuing to restock regularly and recommend patients visit shoppersdrugmart.ca/flu to find out where shots are available and sign up to receive a notification when it is available in a pharmacy near them,” the company said in a statement to CP24.
“We have a strong supply chain system however actual supply of the vaccine is managed by the Ministry of Health and we expect there to be adequate availability throughout the season.”
Many health officials are urging everyone to get the flu shot this year to help prevent the healthcare system from being bogged down with both influenza and COVID-19 patients.
“People often think it’s just the sniffles or a cold, but it’s not,” Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News Toronto last month. “It can be a very, very serious infection, especially in elderly populations, in young children and in people with underlying medical conditions.”
Last month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the government is spending $70 million to order more than five million doses of the flu vaccine.
The order represents a 16 per cent increase from the 4.4 million doses it ordered last year.
Ford said that this year’s vaccination program will be “the largest and most comprehensive in Canada’s history.”
He also said the program aims to reduce the amount of flu-related hospitalizations in Ontario to free up more capacity for potential COVID-19 patients. Last year, hospitals across the province treated 5,719 flu patients.
“Never before have the flu shots been so critical,” Ford said during a news conference last month. “Someone has a runny nose or maybe your kids have a runny nose and right away it is going to backlog the system again. It is just better if we take the flu shots.”
On Saturday, the province recorded 809 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths.
According to provincial health officials, there are currently 213 patients in hospitals with the virus. Fourty-eight patients are currently in intensive care and 29 of those patients are breathing with the help of a ventilator.
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