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Flu shots for sale still scarce

Public health units providing free shots to high risk

By Vivian Moreau

Whistler Medical Clinic will offer flu shots for sale in the first week of December.

The clinic, located in the Whistler Health Care Centre building, has ordered 150 doses from drug manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur through Marketplace Pharmasave and expects delivery of the vaccine Dec. 1.

Office administrator Rachel Milner said the vaccines will be available for $25 to B.C. residents and individuals can telephone for an appointment or walk in for a shot.

Sanofi Pasteur spokesperson Nancy Simpson said the manufacturer had difficulty growing one of the strains in the vaccine earlier this year and supplies for sale were held back until doses for public health units could be filled.

“That is the high risk group who needed it the most and we needed to fulfill our contractual obligations,” Simpson said.

Sanofi Pasteur received permission last week from Health Canada to release more doses of the vaccine for sale. Sanofi Pasteur holds a federal contract to provide 20 per cent of vaccines for Canadian public health supplies. British-based Glaxo Smith Kline holds 80 per cent of the five-year contract, but is not providing any supplies for sale.

Save On Foods Pharmacy’s shipment of 50 doses didn’t arrive in Squamish last week and the pharmacy had to cancel its scheduled flu shot clinic, according to pharmacist Ada Ho.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control ordered 1,233,000 flu vaccine doses for high-risk residents, 333,000 of those are slated for the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes communities in the Sea to Sky region.

Individuals considered high risk — babies, seniors, health care workers, those with immune disorders and many others — can receive the influenza vaccine free through public health clinics being held now through early December in Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish.