COVID-19 has created challenges in making flu shots readily available to the public. (File photo)

Flu shots: COVID-19 creates challenges for Salmon Arm pharmacies

COVID-19 protocols, staffing issues limiting number of vaccinations being done

Salmon Arm residents still in need of a flu shot, and not already scheduled to receive one, may be in for a bit of a wait.

As of Oct. 26, all doses of this year’s influenza vaccine on hand at three of the five Salmon Arm locations offering flu shots were reserved for future appointments.

Staff at two of the locations, the Salmon Arm Health Unit and the pharmacy at Save-On-Foods, said they had doses for bookings up until Dec. 3. After that, they did not know if and when they would receive more of the vaccine.

“Right now we’re scheduling clinic days up to Dec. 3; that’s the last day because we’ve run out of flu shots,” said Save-On-Foods pharmacy manager Wilson Kwok. “That kind of sucks because people want to get it done now so they’re ready for the flu season.”

On Saturday, Oct. 31, a fourth location, Shoppers Drug Mart, had shots available, but did not have adequate staffing, and asked those requesting the shot to return the following Friday.

A spokesperson for Interior Health explained the health authority was allocated approximately 320,000 doses of the vaccine for the region – at least 30 per cent more than usual – and that redeployment would “occur as able if any community across IH is in short supply.”

Part of the frustration felt by Kwok and others, however, has to do with the process, and challenges, of getting available vaccine doses to the public safely and in a timely fashion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uptown Askew’s pharmacy manager Darlene Ogilvie said the pharmacy was initially uncertain if it could even offer flu shots this year because of the physical space available in the store, as well as available staffing.

“None of us were ever designed for a pandemic…,” said Ogilvie. “We had to all kind of come up with our own plans…”

Despite increasing reliance upon local pharmacies to administer the annual flu shot, Ogilvie explained provision of the service this year has been challenging, with more screening, more cleaning and other precautions, all of which take more time and more money.

Read more: Delayed flu vaccine, change in scheduled clinics, puts pressure on Salmon Arm pharmacies

Read more: Doctors, pharmacies explore drive-thrus, outdoor clinics to meet flu shot demand

“It’s been a struggle…,” said Ogilvie. “Basically we have to have staffing, we have to have a space to do it, we have to be able to provide a space for people to wait 15 minutes after their vaccine, there’s all these things that have to happen and sometimes that’s difficult to do.

“And then there seems to have been higher demand. I don’t know if there is but it just seems that way because we get a lot of phone calls.”

Though sorry they cannot accept walk-ins this year, Kwok said the current online screening and appointment booking process available through Save-On-Foods’ website has helped to keep things running smoothly. But because of COVID-19-related health and safety requirements involved, the time it takes to administer the shots has been stretched out.

“In a normal winter flu season, we usually get a chunk of the people done by the second or third week of November,” explained Kwok. “Basically most people are done then; the rest would just walk in whenever they want and do it until January or February…”

Though the province increased compensation to pharmacies this year from $10 to $12.10, Kwok explained it’s not really a money maker.

“It’s a service that we do for the community and it’s important for them. Especially in Salmon Arm, where a high percentage of the population is senior people,” said Kwok.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

flu seasonSalmon Arm council

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read