October 26, 2017 -- The 2017-2018 flu season is being described by health officials as one of the worst flu seasons to hit, especially to those in high-risk groups. In an effort to provide flu vaccines, community pharmacies across B.C. have been preparing for a significant number of flu shots required to meet patient demand. Over 550,000 people received a flu shot from their pharmacist in 2016-2017, an increase of 27 per cent over the previous year. The BC Pharmacy Association predicts a similar, if not increase, in the number of flu shots for the 2017-2018 season.
Kicking off the Say No to Flu campaign, the BC Pharmacy Association wants to bring greater awareness to the epidemic, especially at the start of the season, by providing patients access and convenience to get their flu shots by their local pharmacist.
“If there is any indication that this year’s flu season is to be taken seriously, this is the time. We are already receiving a number of reports from our pharmacists that we should be bracing ourselves for a high percentage of walk-ins and inquiries for flu shots,” says Geraldine Vance, CEO of the BC Pharmacy Association.
With over 3,400 community pharmacists in B.C. authorized to provide immunizations, it is estimated that the number of flu shots given by pharmacists could reach more than half a million, if not more. To ensure high-risk groups are immunized including caregivers who also need protection, pharmacists can provide frontline access to flu shots onsite at local pharmacies and offsite clinics such as senior centres.
Influenza is unpredictable but there are patterns that can be tracked to determine particular strains. In this case, the predominant strain is H3N2, with documented cases in Australia and South Asia. It is considered one of the more severe strains since it first arrived three years ago but has evolved into subtypes, making it even more serious.
“Pharmacists in B.C. have been helping to provide British Columbians immunizations since 2009. They are your frontline access,” Vance says. “And people have been voting with their feet by visiting their local pharmacist. Say no to flu and get immunized.”
The British Columbia Pharmacy Association is a not-for-profit professional association that represents almost 3,200 pharmacists and up to 900 pharmacies throughout British Columbia. For more information, go to www.bcpharmacy.ca
To find a flu clinic near you, visit Immunize BC’s Flu Clinic Locator at: http://www.immunizebc.ca
To speak to a community pharmacist for media interviews or for more information, contact:
BC Pharmacy Association