Flu shots are now available at Ashcroft IDA Pharmacy, and pharmacist Jon Wiesendahl says that anyone who wants one can call and book an appointment during regular store hours.
Unlike in past years, the pharmacy will not be offering a walk-in service for flu shots, except during special clinics when two pharmacists will be in store.
“We’ll have specific times when we’ll have two pharmacists on, and one will be handling flu shots,” he says. “The clinics will be drop-in, and we’ll be holding them in a back room with chairs physically distanced. We don’t expect it to overflow, but if it does we’ll make changes.”
The first clinic is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9, and Wiesendahl says they are looking at possibly holding them on Thursdays and Fridays after that. “We’re not 100 per cent sure of the regular times going forward. We might also be doing something in Cache Creek. Interior Health asked us to see if we could do something there for people who don’t have transportation, and we’re looking into that as a possibility.”
Interior Health usually runs drop-in flu shot clinics in area communities at this time of year, but has cancelled them because of concerns about the COVID-19 virus. Pharmacies have stepped in to provide the service, which is free for most residents of B.C.
“The criteria is pretty broad. It’s free for anyone over the age of 65, or if you have predisposing factors like COPD, diabetes, or heart disease, or if you have someone close to you who has predisposing factors, or if you’re in contact with seniors. Pretty much all we do is publicly funded, and if someone comes in we can find the criteria.”
Wiesendahl says that anyone coming in for a flu shot should wear a mask if they can. “If you’ve never been here before then you should bring your Care Card or a piece of ID with your name and birth date on it.”
People should allow half-an-hour for the shot, including a 15-minute wait after getting the vaccine. “You might have a short wait with an appointment, since the pharmacist could get called to help with something else. The clinic might be faster.”
The pharmacy is able to administer shots to anyone over the age of five, and Wiesendahl says anyone with children younger than that should contact the Public Health Nurse at the Ashcroft Hospital. “They’re doing shots by appointment two days a week.”
He adds that contrary to what some people believe, the flu shot cannot cause the flu.
“It’s a totally inactive virus, not live. It can cause an immune response that makes you feel a little under the weather, so you can get a mild fever or a runny nose for a few days as an immune response, but it’s not full-on influenza. Sometimes you get unlucky and get the flu right after you’ve had the shot, and if you get exposed to the flu within a couple of days of getting the shot your immune system hasn’t built its response yet.”
He says that the pharmacy will soon know more about this year’s flu shots.
“We’ll nail down if there are any issues we need to work around, but this is our plan to start. We’ll see if any changes are needed after the first week.”
He advises anyone who wants to know more about upcoming clinics or book an appointment to call the pharmacy direct at (250) 453-2537.