2020 is a crucial year for flu shots

Reporter Michael Erskine was one of the first in Little Current to receive his flu shot last week. selfie by Michael Erskine

Now available all over Manitoulin Island

MANITOULIN – Where you get your flu shot this year will depend a lot on where you live on Manitoulin. In some cases, the annual flu shots are taking place at family health team clinics and health centres, while in others they are at the local pharmacy. COVID-19 has contributed to the mishmash as some facilities are not large enough to accommodate physical distancing.

In the case of Little Current and environs, those served by the Northeast Manitoulin Family Health Team, manager Judy Miller said that anyone who is scheduled in any way to come into the clinic, such as picking up travel grant forms or other documentation or are scheduled for an in-person meeting with any of the health staff, “we give them the shot while they are in.”

Ms. Miller said that the clinic is trying to limit the amount of traffic coming into the facility as much as possible. “So we are not holding a flu clinic per se,” she said. The key element is to have those coming in pre-screened for the virus symptoms and travel.

Before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic the pharmacy industry had presented the provincial government with a business case for having all of the flu shots given out at local pharmacies—except those for children. Then came the pandemic and a host of complications arose, particularly in the case of smaller pharmacies with limited floor space, staff and personal protective equipment needed to maintain safety. But the enabling legislation does authorize pharmacies to set up off-site flu clinics.

“I had a conversation with Rudy at the Little Current Guardian and offered to be their clinic,” said Ms. Miller. “He sent over the flu shots they had received and we have been giving them out here at the family health team in Little Current.”

The family health teams have not been issued with the high dose shots normally given out to those over 65 or with severe complications that make them more susceptible to the flu, but even those provided to the pharmacies were very limited in number—only 10 have arrived so far. “We have prioritized the most vulnerable, those with two or three complicating factors,” said Ms. Miller.

The Guardian Pharmacy in Manitowaning is administering flu shots, but they have very small numbers, said Ms. Miller. Mindemoya and Little Current Guardians, however, are not administering the shots and are referring to the family health teams.

In Wiikwemkoong the health centre is getting the flu shots as Mnis IDA has not given out the shots before, noted Ms. Miller. 

“We sure are,” responded Erica Hare at Sweetgrass Pharmacy and Compounding when asked if they are giving flu shots. “Call and book an appointment. We have quite a few people coming in.”

The Gore Bay Medical Centre will be holding a flu shot clinic at the fire hall, but the exact timing of that plan has not yet been determined. At Robinson’s IDA those seeking a flu shot are advised to call to book an appointment. “Call and we will put you on the list and call you when it is time to come in,” said Tammy Robinson.

Wherever the flu shots are available in your community, medical professionals are adamant that people get them this year.

“Even if you don’t normally get the flu shot, this is probably the year when you should,” said Ms. Miller.

Central Pharmacy in Gore Bay is also offering flu shots. Please call 705-282-2409 to check on supply.