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.