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Flu vaccine suddenly in short supply

Pharmacies in Kimberley and Cranbrook have run out of the seasonal flu vaccine, which includes a vaccine for the H1N1 strain that has sent people to intensive care in the lower mainland and Alberta.

Pharmacists at Pharmasave in Cranbrook said the shortage has largely to do with media coverage of the H1N1 outbreak. Vaccine supplies are usually ordered based on the previous year's demand — this year has seen an uptick in vaccine requests, and at a later date than the usual late autumn surge of flu shots.

A Kimberley pharmacist says that in Alberta the flu vaccine supply has virtually dried up and Albertans are turning to B.C. pharmacies to try to get the vaccine.

“We’ve definitely had a few out of province inquiries,” said Ashley Tait at Kimberley’s Shoppers Drug Mart. “After the Christmas holidays we had visitors trying to get the vaccine before they left because they heard about long lines in Alberta.”

However, those out-of-province inquiries are all being given the same answer ­­— there’s no more vaccine to sell.

Supplies of the flu vaccine to pharmacies in B.C. come from two different sources, Tait explained. The shot which people pay for comes from a different supplier than the public supply from Interior Health, (which can only go to those with a B.C. Care Card).

But at the moment, there are none left.

“We are out of vaccine,” Tait said. “Last Monday we got a small stock and we went through it quickly. We get our public stock through Interior Health and this morning we received a fax saying that effective immediately, Interior Health can’t supply pharmacies. They will continue to offer clinics through Public Health by appointment this week .”

Michelle Gray of Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy in Marysville says the same.

“We are getting Albertans asking about it, but there are no paying shots left. We are waiting for Interior Health to get the next shipment of public shots, so we are accumulating a waiting list for those shots.”

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