When & how Kingston health care providers get the influenza vaccine

Photo by Gustavo Fring.

UPDATE: Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020

The Kingstonist has learned that McKesson Canada, a major distributor of the flu vaccine to Kingston pharmacies, has fully depleted their inventory for the season.

“Over the past few days, we have received many requests for additional supply,” wrote Tim Smith, a Senior Vice-President at McKesson, in a letter to local pharmacies dated Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

“Patient demand has outpaced the Ontario government’s allocation to McKesson Canada, which is a function of manufacturer availability to the province, heightened consumer awareness on vaccination, and the fact that many Public Health Flu Clinics and physicians’ offices are closed or working at reduced capacity,” Smith said.

According to KFL&A Public Health, the flu vaccine supply to pharmacies in the Kingston area is separate from the doses allocated to doctors’ offices, hospitals and long-term care homes.

Smith said McKesson is advocating for additional supply, and working closely with the Ministry on resolving the issue. The Kingstonist will be reaching out to local pharmacies in the coming days for further information.

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health says the seasonal flu shot is now available at family medical clinics across the city. This is good news for families with children under five, who are not eligible to receive their flu shot from a pharmacy.

“We ask that individuals contact their health care provider to make an appointment,” said KFL&A Public Health.

Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, has emphasized the importance of influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic several times heading into the fall respiratory season. Reducing the number of cases of influenza in the region should help reduce the typical seasonal impact it has on emergency rooms and hospital admissions, he said, thus sparing health care resources for COVID-19 patients.

“The typical vaccination rate in the KFL&A region for the flu shot from recent years is around 40 per cent, which is very good,” said KFL&A Public Health. “We do plan to see a much higher uptake this year.”

The Ministry of Health distributes the vaccines to pharmacies and Public Health units separately in the province, with reserves designated for hospitals and long term care homes. The KFL&A Public Health unit has reportedly reserved over 70,000 influenza vaccines to distribute to local health care providers during the 2020-2021 flu season, in addition to the doses available at pharmacies.

Pharmacies in Kingston also began offering the flu vaccine this month however, many are reporting high demand and have begun posting notices indicating that they’re out of their first round of supply.

The provincial influenza vaccine supply chain

According to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care the province begins receiving its initial supply of influenza vaccine doses in multiple shipments from manufacturers in mid-to-late September every year. The initial supply is prioritized for hospitals and long-term care homes.

“KFL&A Public Health receives vaccine from the Province in stages and in turn, we ship out to health care providers in our area — with the exception of pharmacies — in stages,” said Public Health. “We expect to receive about 85 per cent of our total allocation by the end of October.”

According to the provincial government, distribution of vaccine supplies from the manufacturer to the Ministry, and on to all health care providers, continues in stages until November. After this point, the province says additional doses are ordered as required from vaccine manufacturers. As provincial stocks are replenished, deliveries continue with priority to retirement homes, congregate care settings and then to primary care and pharmacies.

KFL&A Public Health said they hope to continue to be able to order additional vaccine as needed, or as it is made available from the Ministry of Health.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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