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Oct. 31, 2020 | Saturday
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Pharmacies prepare to give out hundreds of flu shots
Sean Simpson of Simpson's Pharmacy. (File/Jessica Maxwell)

Flu season is fast approaching and area pharmacies are preparing to administer this year’s vaccine.

Sean Simpson of Simpson’s Pharmacy says he has one key message about the flu shot: “The more people that get vaccinated, the healthier our population will be.”

This year Simpson’s Pharmacy will offer a drive-thru service for administering the vaccine, which he says should help to provide a safer experience. “We’re just trying to promote more physical distancing,” he said.

He said the preference will be to opt for the drive-thru method, which pharmacy staff are currently organizing.

The pharmacy received its first shipment of 65 doses on Tuesday. He said appointments will be available as more doses become available.

“We were expecting to get about 500 doses all at once, so that kind of threw a bit of a wrench into our plan, because we were hoping to release a whole whack of appointments,” he said.

“It seems like we’re going to get a staggered supply every day so we don’t want to book more appointments than we can handle, so we’re probably going to have to stretch things out a little bit.”

Simpson said he is anticipating a small bump in the number of doses to be given out by his store’s two locations in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We’re expecting about 10 per cent more than previous years but we won’t know what that actual number will be until we receive it,” he said, noting all vaccinations will be by appointment-only. 

Last year, Simpson’s Pharmacy administered about 700 flu shots by the end of November. 

He says to check the website and Facebook page, or to sign up for the mailing list, for updates on booking appointments and when more time slots will be available, as the phone lines have been receiving a higher call volume than normal.

“We’re trying to discourage people from just showing up as we’re expecting heavy volume,” he said. “We’re hoping people will be patient while we get this all sorted out.”

Down the road at Stone Road Pharmacy, pharmacist/owner Julie Dyck said her team is making space to administer the flu vaccine by utilizing more of the back office area this year.

“We’ve got more space to do flu shots this year. We’ve expanded our flu studio” by utilizing more space in the building, she said.

Last year, Dyck said vaccines were administered in one office. This year she’s making room to keep patients flowing through “rotating offices” while still maintaining proper sanitization of each room between use. 

“We’re anticipating even more than last year to get vaccinated,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of people asking about it and it’s nice that it’s on people’s radar. It’s not an afterthought.”

Her pharmacy will also have virtual reality goggles on hand again to help make the experience easier for those nervous about receiving the shot, Dyck said.

Stone Road Pharmacy received its first shipment Wednesday morning and will begin booking appointments. Calling to book a time in advance is “strongly encouraged” to keep crowds small and to allow for proper social distancing, she said.

Dyck added that pharmacists are now able to administer the high-dose flu vaccine to people over the age of 65, which in previous years could only be done by a physician.

With the coronavirus pandemic, Simpson said getting a flu shot is important.

“I don’t know that this year is more important than others to get your flu shot but I think when people look at the fact that COVID is still circulating, it’s another type of illness that we can prevent if we get vaccinated. And the less illnesses circulating in the community, the safer we’ll all be.”

“That’s the key message with the flu shot: it’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s protecting yourself and everybody else,” he said.

 

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