Now that the cold weather is rapidly approaching, Canadians are being reminded not to forget about the looming flu season while focusing on the current pandemic.
In order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, pharmacies are booking appointments to administer flu shots instead of the traditional walk-in model.
Additionally, pharmacies have implemented new procedures to keep patients safe, including strict adherence to physical distancing, PPE usage, limits on the number of patients in the pharmacy and extra time allotted for pharmacy staff to clean and put on protective equipment.
“With the second wave surge in COVID-19 cases we are starting to see, getting your flu shot is more important than ever,” Shelita Dattani, director of knowledge translation and practice development for the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said in a news release.
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“In a normal year influenza puts a heavy strain on our health care system, so we need to do everything we can to reduce the spread of influenza—and the best defense we have is the flu shot,” she continued.
Those who plan on receiving a flu shot this year are instructed to contact the pharmacy in advance, and self-screen for the virus prior to arriving.
Upon arrival, those who intend to receive a flu shot should:
- Be prepared for screening before you enter the pharmacy
- Wear a mask; If you do not have a mask, the immunization can’t be given
- Wear loose clothing with short sleeves to allow easier access to immunization site
- Arrive on time, not early, to help maintain physical distancing at the pharmacy
- Limit the number of people going with you to 1 essential caregiver where required (e.g., a parent, or caregiver to an elderly patient); households can be immunized together
“While this increase in demand is anticipated and governments have ordered additional flu vaccine to meet that demand, it’s important to note that the flu shot supply does not arrive all at once,” Dattani said.
“Pharmacies in many jurisdictions have started to receive their first batches and will continue to receive supply over the coming weeks, so we ask patients to be patient as this historic demand is met,” she added.