Flu shots dry up

Whitehorse has run out of flu vaccines. Flu clinics are closed until further notice, the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, said Friday.

Whitehorse has run out of flu vaccines.

Flu clinics are closed until further notice, the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, said Friday.

“As predicted, Whitehorse has run out of vaccine, if a little sooner than anticipated. This means that Yukoners have stepped forward to achieve an unprecedented rate of immunization against seasonal influenza,” he said in a statement.

“In turn we will see better protection for those who can’t, won’t or are unable to obtain vaccination for now.”

In the communities, health centres are operating as usual. Those clinics have already sent Whitehorse any doses they could spare, he said.

On the phone today, Hanley estimates about 9,000 Yukoners have been vaccinated.

On Friday, an all-day flu clinic was set up at the Whitehorse Health Centre. Flu shots ran out about half an hour before closing.

At the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, the last remaining vaccines were gone earlier that day.

The territory has never run out before, Hanley said.

Yukon officials have requested more vaccine from the federal public works department, as have many other jurisdictions.

“We’re basically in the same pot as everyone else,” Hanley said.

The federal government is in charge of organizing vaccines across the country. It will be up to those officials to see if other jurisdictions have extra vaccines to share with those in need.

Failing that, the next stage is to look outside of Canada, to Europe, to see if there are vaccines to spare.

Hanley said he is hopeful there will be more flu shots in the territory later this week. He said he doesn’t want to officially announce new clinics until he is certain.

The territory bases its order for the annual vaccine on previous experiences.

“We base it on demand from previous years with a certain cushion in case it’s needed,” Hanley said.

In previous years the territory has used about 7,500 doses, he said.

Local health officials ran dedicated flu shot clinics from about mid-October to early November.

After that, vaccine clinics – for vaccinations of any kind – were run out of the health centre every weekday morning or by appointment.

Hanley called this year’s flu season in the territory “intense.”

He said confirmed cases spiked in early December and again around the Christmas season.

That, combined with media attention on the busy flu season in other jurisdictions, may explain people’s interest in getting the shot, he said.

Updates on clinic dates and times will be posted at www.hss.gov.yk.ca.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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