Higher than normal demand for influenza vaccinations has led to an initial shortage at local pharmacies, but sufficient supplies of the shot are expected to arrive in the next week.

“The ministry will do an initial shipment based on your history from last year – usually 50 per cent of what you have used in the previous year,” said Pharmacist George Gabra of PharmaChoice in Vankleek Hill. “This is what we received, but due to the high demand we have run out. We are expecting more next week.”

While local pharmacies may have used up their initial shipment of vaccines, it does not mean there is a shortage. The first shipments each year are based on demand from previous years in order to ensure an even supply.

“It’s not a shortage – this is how they start (influenza) season every year,” Gabra noted. “You don’t want pharmacies to hold it and not use it and then it ends up wasted at the end of the year. They are trying to control it – which is a good strategy.”

Flu vaccines are distributed through the Province of Ontario by the Universal Influenza Immunization Program, administered by Public Health Ontario. There are multiple types of vaccines, given in both standard and high doses. The stronger doses are targeted at Seniors over the age of 65..

“Most of the people (in Hawkesbury) are seniors, so they are demanding the high dose vaccine,” said Fady Hanna, Pharmacist at Shopper’s Drug Mart in Hawkesbury, which has also run out of its initial supply of vaccine doses. “We expect to receive another shipment next week.”

The Loblaw Pharmacy at Asselin’s Your Independent Grocer in Hawkesbury has also been busy with requests for the flu vaccine. The store has received several shipments thus far and has been distributing them to customers as they are available.

“We’ve had a lot of demand – it is available, but we run out every two or three days,” commented Pharmacist David Abdelmesseh. “We are getting both (strengths), and we run out very fast. But we are trying to make it available most of the time.”

Jean Coutu in Hawkesbury is another local pharmacy which has many inquiries about the flu shot. As of Friday, Oct. 23, the store had run out of the vaccine due to high demand. Jean Coutu is expecting to receive sufficient supplies of the shot in the upcoming week.