On Oct. 19, 2021, the Province announced it would move to universal eligibility for the publicly funded influenza vaccine meaning patients would not be required to pay for the flu shot if they do not fall into specific eligibility requirements.
This is effective immediately.
We understand the reasoning for this decision now is due to the future plans for the 5- to 11- year-old age group that will be eligible for the publicly funded COVID-19 vaccine free of charge. In order to be consistent, the Province has made the decision to make the publicly funded flu vaccine also free of charge for all individuals.
We have not received confirmation on which vaccines this impacts. We are awaiting word from the BCCDC and will update members as will send out an update as soon as possible. We will continue to update you with more information this afternoon.
In addition to direct flu distribution, universal eligibility is something that B.C. pharmacies have long wanted for many years, and the BC Pharmacy Association had advocated for this many months ago prior to planning for the flu season.
While pleased to see the decision, the timing of this announcement will no doubt be a challenge for some pharmacies -- from how to handle private inventory to answering questions from patients who have already paid for their vaccines from pharmacies’ private inventory.
The BC Pharmacy Association is working to clarify with the Province how pharmacies who have purchased private stock of vaccines should manage these supplies going forward.
We have been told this announcement does not impact Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent. This will continue to be private pay for patients who do not reside in long-term care or assisted living facilities or are First Nations.
As we consistently see, the COVID-19 pandemic is a constantly changing and swiftly moving event. The pandemic is showing us that decisions once previously taken can be shifted with little warning. Now, more than ever, individuals need to have the ability to get vaccinated for the flu. The BC Pharmacy Association understands the tremendous work that all pharmacies have undertaken to ensure this flu season runs smoothly.
If you have specific concerns about how to manage your private inventory, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.