Toronto flu shots available at clinics, pharmacies

Oct 22, 2012 | News

Free flu shot clinics are opening across Toronto this week. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Patricia Brotzel

Influenza season has arrived and Ontario health minister Deb Matthews kicked off the opening of free flu shot clinics Monday morning by sitting down to receive her vaccination.

Vaccinations will be administered at scheduled clinics from Nov. 25 till Jan. 10, 2013.

The flu vaccine is adjusted each year to cover against the most likely strains to affect the community.

“The flu shot that we get in the given year is based on flu and predicted epidemiological plans and forecasts from epidemiologists as to what we can expect the strain to be in a certain region,” Jason Powell, Humber’s Dean of Health Sciences told Humber News.

Epidemiologists seek to determine what viruses they believe pose the greatest threat.

“They take last year’s epidemiological data, predict as best they can which strain will occur in a certain part of the world then tailor that vaccine to that part of the world” said Powell.

While Powell says ideally everyone should receive the flu shot to maximize its effectiveness, there are a few groups of people who are at higher risk.

“The flu is significantly debilitating to children, the very elderly population, and anybody with concurrent diseases,” said Powell.

Waterloo, Ont. has already experienced two influenza outbreaks, one in a retirement home and the other in a long-term care facility. The unexpectedly early start to the flu season prompted flu clinics in the area to start three weeks ahead of schedule, according to The Record.

This is the first year residents will be able to receive flu shots from a pharmacist as opposed to going to clinics or their family practitioner.

Powell says the expanded scope of practice for pharmacists is a move in the right direction. He says the change will relieve wait times in clinics and keep people who are ill from interacting with people who are receiving their shot.

Humber Med Spot Pharmacy Pharmacist Samy Mak says while the campus pharmacy won’t be offering vaccinations this year, letting pharmacists administer shots was a good decision.

“It’s a good opportunity to increase the prevalence of vaccination in Canada, which is already low, especially in rural areas where there are no clinics or doctors around the place, so pharmacists can play that role,” said Mak.