Langara has run out of the flu vaccine for the year, which immunizes against the H1N1 virus that had claimed the lives of 13 British Columbians this season.
According to the B.C. Center for Disease Control, H1N1, or “swine flu”, affects a much younger, healthier population than other flu strains.
The demand for the vaccine this year seemed to take the province by surprise, with many clinics and pharmacies facing shortages and the Ministry of Health unable to resupply them quick enough.
“We ordered I think even more [of the vaccine] than last year but went through it very quickly.” Said Dr. Claire Talbot, who works at Langara health services.
Sanket Thakkar is a pharmacist who works at a Rexall pharmacy on Fraser Street, which still has some vaccines available, had a similar experience.
“Even the younger people are getting the flu shot now. Everybody, kids too.” Said Thakkar.
The Centre for Disease Control said H1N1 has accounted for more than 80 per cent of flu cases in the province.
“When H1N1 first came on the scene, we didn’t have a vaccine and that was a tense year.” Said Dr. Talbot. “But it has been in the flu vaccine for the last three years or so. I don’t think we’ve been so short on it before.”
In addition to the 13 deaths, 34 B.C. severe flu cases are currently in intensive care. Six of the deaths occurred in Metro Vancouver.
Despite it nearing the end of the flu season, the ministry has ordered more vaccines to distribute to select few pharmacies and clinics. Vancouver Coastal Health still recommends seeking out a flu shot and a list of flu clinics is available on the ImmunizeBC website.