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Doctors, pharmacies explore drive-thru, outdoor clinics to meet flu shot demand – CBC.ca

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Anticipating increased demand for the flu shot this season, pharmacist Sean Simpson has invested in a few unorthodox supplies that go well beyond extra face masks: street signage, traffic cones, a pop-up tent and hard hats.

He’ll need them for the drive-thru vaccination clinic he’s setting up in the parking lot of his Virgil, Ont., Pharmasave, a scheme he hopes will address COVID-19 fears while offering customers a quick way to get their shot.

“We’ve worked it out in our heads a number of times, and we seem to think it’ll work,” said Simpson, who was still waiting Tuesday for his vaccine shipment to arrive.

“We’ll have a setup where we’re able to vaccinate people in the car and monitor them for the recommended period of time and let them go on their way so that we can reduce the interaction with others.”

Pharmacist Sean Simpson poses outside his pharmacy in Virgil, Ont., on Monday. He’ll be offering a drive-thru flu clinic this year. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

While residents in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have been among the first in Canada to receive doses in recent weeks, pharmacies and doctor’s clinics in much of the rest of the country are still waiting and preparing to deliver their shots. Many start their programs in October or early November.

Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Ann Collins said varied start times depend on when the vaccine supply is delivered to the province, when it is dispersed to depots, when it’s picked up by the provider and ultimately when providers have their provision plan in place.

This season, the Fredericton-based physician said pharmacists and doctors are eager to try novel ways to offer large-scale flu clinics that can maintain pandemic safety precautions, noting her own family physician hosted a flu clinic in a parking lot last weekend.

At Simpson’s Pharmacy in Virgil, drive-thru visits will be by appointment only, with waivers and related paperwork to be filled out online.

Simpson expected the outdoor clinic will limit face-to-face interaction between strangers, avoid any need for a waiting room and reduce crowding in the actual store.

Ottawa family physician Dr. Aly Abdulla said COVID-19 precautions rule out traditional mass-vaccination tactics, such as renting out the nearby legion.

At the same time, getting the shot to as many people as possible was more crucial than ever to avoid a feared “twindemic,” in which simultaneous flu and COVID-19 outbreaks overwhelm the health-care system.

Pharmacy chain staggers rollout

Abdulla expected to offer the flu shot when patients come in for routine appointments. But he’s also in talks with local public health about a joint effort that might see several doctors share the cost of renting a large space for a flu clinic, which would also allow them to pool their doses if needed.

“Our plan is to have public health screening areas — maybe arenas, maybe clinics that are not using their space on evenings and weekends — to have these flu clinics,” said Abdulla. He said he’s also heard of doctors in Guelph, Ont., and Georgian Bay considering drive-thru clinics.

“[They] will essentially be ad hoc in the community, based on what the needs are.”

This year, the Public Health Agency of Canada said more than 13 million doses have been ordered, a jump from last season’s 11.2 million doses. Ten per cent of that is the high-dose influenza vaccine — itself a 25 per cent increase from last season as public health focuses on inoculating more adults 65 years and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from flu and COVID-19.

Shoppers Drug Mart said its stores in P.E.I. began delivering the flu shot Sept. 28, while those in New Brunswick began Oct. 5.

The chain, including its Loblaw pharmacies, continued a staggered rollout in Ontario on Wednesday; Manitoba and Nova Scotia next week; British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan on Oct. 19; Yukon on Oct. 26 and in Quebec’s Pharmaprix outlets on Nov. 1.

WATCH | Flu shots could help avoid ‘twindemic,’ doctors say:

Health authorities are urging Canadians to get a flu shot this year to avoid the spectre of a “twindemic,” where the health-care system is overwhelmed by COVID-19 and influenza, but there are concerns about how to safely deliver flu shots to more people. 3:31

A spokesperson said availability in Newfoundland and Labrador was still to be determined and that customers should contact their local pharmacy to confirm details.

Requests ‘off the charts,’ Toronto pharmacist says

Theresa Firestone, senior vice-president of health and wellness at Shoppers Drug Mart, touted a contactless digital consent form that includes screening for COVID-19 symptoms, drop-in appointments and dedicated senior’s clinics — when stores will be opened exclusively for older shoppers — with meeting increased demand.

“Physician offices often close at the end of the workday. We have many stores open until midnight … and we have a number of stores that are 24-hours,” said Firestone.

Victor Wong, an associate owner and pharmacist at a Shoppers Drug Mart in east-end Toronto, said requests for the flu shot “have been off the charts,” with some customers asking about its arrival since the summer.

Needles and syringes used to administer the flu shot. Doctors face added costs of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to give the vaccine this year. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

He expected demand will be high at his store after hearing some doctors were skipping the season entirely.

“We have local doctors, even within our close proximity, who have already phoned us to let us know that they will not be opening up their clinics this year for flu shots or will be diverting their flu shot patients to our store,” said Wong, whose store delivered more than 600 flu shots last year.

A recent survey by the Canadian Medical Association suggested half of 598 respondents expected they won’t have enough doses this season. A broader survey of 1,459 doctors found half had trouble accessing personal protective equipment, and many feared they’ll have trouble safeguarding patients and staff while delivering the flu shot.

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B.C. flu vaccine: Here's what you need to know – Vancouver Sun

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Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Receiving the flu vaccine can protect you and others around you from the spread of influenza.

Who should get a flu shot?

Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should get a yearly vaccination, particularly if you or someone in close contact with you is considered high-risk, such as children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with medical conditions.

Those who work in health care or who spend time in care homes or health-care settings should also get the vaccine.

Is the flu shot free or will I have to pay?

The flu shot is publicly funded and free for those who are eligible. The full list of eligible individuals is available online here but includes:

• Anyone at high risk of serious illness such as children, pregnant women, seniors over the age of 65, residents in care homes, etc.

• People able to transmit or spread influenza to those who are high risk such as household contacts of high-risk individuals or care workers.

• Essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics and corrections workers.

To find out if you are eligible, talk to your healthcare provider to call HealthLink B.C. at 811.

If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, it can be purchased at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Some employers also provide the vaccine free to employees and may set up a flu clinic.

Where can I get the flu shot?

The free flu vaccine is available from public-health clinics, some doctors’ offices and most pharmacies.

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COVID infections in B.C. remain at elevated levels on Friday with 223 new cases

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The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in B.C. remains elevated, reaching 223 in the last 24 hours, provincial health officials said Friday afternoon.

That figure – coming a day after the province reported a record high of 274 new daily cases on Thursday – brings the total number of active COVID cases in B.C. to 2,009, with another 4,637 people under active health monitoring after having been exposed to the virus.

Overall, 75 patients are hospitalized and 24 of them are in intensive care, said Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry in a statement. However, there were no new deaths to report in the latest report, and the total death toll remains at 256.

Henry said the continued spike in new COVID cases means that it is time for B.C. residents to again consider reducing social gatherings and limiting contact with others, given the rising numbers recently coincided with private events such as weddings.

“Contact-tracing teams throughout our province are working around the clock to stop further spread, but it requires all of us to do our part to be successful in these efforts,” Henry said in the statement. “This is our opportunity and the time to take a step back from our social interactions and keep our groups small this weekend. In doing this, we show our appreciation and support for the important work of contact tracers.”

It has been a discouraging week in terms of B.C.’s COVID numbers, as Thursday marked the fourth time in six days that the province announced a new record high for daily cases.

The area with the largest number of cases since the start of the pandemic remains the Fraser Health region (6,864), followed by Vancouver Coastal Health (4,319), Interior Health (662), Northern Health (371) and Island Health (250). In total, the province has now seen 12,554 cases of the novel coronavirus – with 10,247 people having recovered since.

Officials did report two new health-facility outbreaks, located at Laurel Place in Surrey and Fair Haven Homes Burnaby Lodge in Burnaby, as well as two new community outbreaks at Langley’s Coast Spa Manufacturing and Surrey’s Pace Processing. With four assisted-living facilities now off the outbreak list, the total number of health-care facilities outbreaks in B.C. now stands at 16.

The following facilities remain on the outbreak list:

Vancouver Coastal Health – 

* Haro Park Centre long-term care facility (second occurrence)

* Point Grey Private Hospital long-term care facility

* Royal Arch Masonic Home long-term care facility (second occurrence)

* Three Links Care Centre long-term care facility

Fraser Health – 

* Al Hogg Pavilion

* Baillie House long-term care facility

* Evergreen Baptist Care Society long-term care facility

* Fair Haven Homes Burnaby Lodge

* Fort Langley Seniors Community long-term care facility

* Good Samaritan Victoria Heights assisted-living facility

* Laurel Place

* Peace Portal Seniors Village long-term care facility

* Rosemary Heights Seniors Village independent, assisted and long-term care facility

* Sunset Manor assisted-living facility

* The Village assisted living and long-term care facility

* Zion Park Manor long-term care facility

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Quebec reports 1,009 new coronavirus cases, 26 more deaths – Montreal Gazette

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Daily cases jumped back above 1,000 Saturday, with 26 new deaths reported and hospitalizations on the rise.

Health Minister Christian Dubé noted the big jump in deaths.

“Let’s think about all the people who have lost a loved one to COVID-19,” he said via Twitter. “Let us continue our collective efforts to ensure that the virus claims as few victims as possible.”

Quebec recorded 1,009 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 99,235, the provincial government announced Saturday morning.

Of the additional deaths reported, five occurred over the past 24 hours.

Seventeen of the new deaths occurred between Oct. 17 and 22, while three occurred before Oct. 17 and the date of another death was unknown.

The death toll is now 6,132.

The number of hospitalizations increased by nine to reach 549.

Among those in hospital, 93 are in intensive care, a drop of six.

On Thursday, 26,542 people were tested. That’s the last day for which screening data is available.

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