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As B.C. shells out nearly $19 million to increase the supply of influenza vaccines in anticipation of heightened demand, the BC Pharmacy Association (BCPA) wants people to know that the procedure to access a flu shot will look a little different this year.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the association says those looking to get their flu vaccines at pharmacies can expect a number of changes due to precautions taken to mitigate transmission of COVID-19.

“With COVID-19, there’s an expectation that B.C. pharmacists will deliver more shots because of the increase in demand,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO of the BC Pharmacy Association.

“Pharmacists will be putting in more time and resources to keep patients and themselves safe during COVID-19.”

See also: B.C. announces winter pandemic plan: more flu shots, more testing, more health care staff

This year, instead of walk-in vaccine clinics or designated flu shot hours, patients should expect to book an appointment or call their pharmacists first before going in.

Patients will then be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and asked questions so that the pharmacist can determine whether they are eligible for a publicly funded flu shot.

So far provincial health officials have purchased 1,965,000 doses of the flu vaccine for the general population and 45,000 doses of Fluzone-High Dose immunizations for  long term care and assisted living facility residents, in anticipation of heightened demand for this year’s flu season.

Pharmacists are also adapting their processes to balance this level of demand and the need to maintain physical distancing.

According to the BCPA, one Vancouver pharmacy plans to approach nearby businesses to see if they can accommodate flu clinics at their locations where there may be more space for physical distancing.

“COVID-19 has us all doing a lot of things differently – that may include thinking about getting your first flu shot,” said pharmacist Lisa Le, pharmacy manager at YYoung Pharmacy in Vancouver.
“If you’ve never had a flu shot before, now is the time to get immunized. Not only will you protect yourself, you will also protect the loved ones around you.”
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