Ontario’s demand for flu shots up 500% from 2019


As the demands for flu vaccine in Ontario increase 500 per cent from 2019, flu shot shortage brings many pharmacies and drug stores to temporarily pause their vaccination programs. Premier Doug Ford called the vaccination program in Ontario a success despite the shortage in doses.

“Let me flip this around, isn’t this great news that we’ve seen an increase of flu shots of 500 per cent? People are listening,” said Ford last Monday.

Although the Ontario government provides vaccination programs every year, the COVID-19 pandemic brought more people to be immunized before the flu season took off. 

According to 2019 statistics by Health Canada, 35.4 per cent of Canadian adults received their vaccination in pharmacies. Vaccination in pharmacies was the leading option for Canadian adults last year. More people were vaccinated in pharmacies than the doctor’s office.

This trend continued into 2020 with the pandemic. Pharmacies such as Rexall quickly ran out of supplies and had to temporarily pause their vaccination programs until supplies restock.

A 2019 survey by Health Canada showed that the leading reason to be vaccinated was to prevent infection of seasonal flu. This combined with the COVID-19 outbreak this year led people to get the flu shots. For the same reason, the government of Ontario also urged the public to receive their vaccination.

In an interview with CTV News Toronto, Dr. Samantha Hill, the president of the Ontario Medical Association, said that if an outbreak of influenza were to occur with the second wave of COVID-19, it would “really strain the system, which is already working overtime to prevent surges in hospitals and community clinics.”

The vaccines were provided as part of the Universal Influenza Immunization Program (UIIP) for the 2020-2021 influenza season. This is the first time in Ontario where the cell-culture based influenza vaccine is being used for flu season according to Public Health Ontario.

As for Sheridan students. The college is providing the flu shot but there are strict regulations for an in-person appointment, this included immunization appointments. You must first call and have a virtual consultation, no walk-ins. This is due to COVID as well as the low supply of vaccines. Specifically for the Davis campus, you must enter the C- Wings entrance, and a nurse will help you at the door rather than going all the way to the health centre. Minimizing interactions. 

Sheridan, like all other immunization locations, is trying to balance the importance of the flu shot as well as the importance of COVID-19 restrictions. With the low supply of flu shots and the high demand, a phone call prior to coming in is the path most places have chosen. It’s a slightly slower process this year, but a much safer one for everyone.