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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Children wait using physical distancing after getting their pictures taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Update: COVID-19 cases confirmed at more Kelowna schools

Interior Health announced a case has been confirmed at Chute Lake Elementary

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
Kelowna hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced the Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
No public attendance for Kelowna council meetings, public hearings

The new measures come as part of the new provincial order, released on Dec. 3

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster children

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Two arrested after attack at Vernon home

Police spotted around 43rd Avenue linked to Wednesday assault

Most Read