Demand for flu shot up this year, Toronto Public Health says
Codi Wilson, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, February 8, 2019 9:57PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 10, 2019 2:47PM EST
Demand for the flu shot has been greater this year in Ontario than last, Toronto Public Health says, which has resulted in reported shortages at some doctor’s offices across the city.
In a statement sent out Friday, Dr. Vinita Dubey, the city’s associate medical officer of health, said the flu vaccine is still available at some doctor’s offices and pharmacies in Toronto but people should call ahead to be sure.
Speaking to CP24 on Friday night, Dr. Neil Rau said given that we are already past the peak of this year’s flu season, the shortage shouldn’t impact too many people.
“It is hard to predict how many people are going to get the vaccine and some years the demand outstrips the supply and maybe that’s what’s happened this year,” he said.
“The vaccine doesn’t give you as much protection when you get it after the peak of the flu wave as getting it before the whole season starts. That’s why we give the vaccine in October, November, and December, rather than after the peak,” he noted.
For those who are under 75 and otherwise healthy, Rau said he doesn’t think it will be a “big deal” if they don’t receive the vaccine.
“If you have underlying health conditions like asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, there is a small benefit to getting it,” he said.
He added that this year’s main strain of flu predominantly affects people under the age of 65.
"There is a little bit of future protection for flu B, if we have a flu B wave. This year B seems to be gone and absent but it can show up in March, you never know," Rau said.
While it won’t have a major impact this flu season, Rau said there may be lessons for the future.
“I think the other lesson is maybe we need to look at doing the vaccine programs the way that Quebec has decided to do them,” he said.
Quebec, Rau said, focusses on high-risk people rather than the entire population.
“If you run out of vaccine, if there are people that are really the high-risk people who are at higher risk of bad complications of the flu, and if they were not able to get the vaccine, that would be bad,” he said.