By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — It may be more difficult this year for Canadians wanting to get their flu shots due to delays in producing and distributing the vaccine.
The federal government says some provincial flu vaccination programs may have to be pushed back while supplies are worked out.
“Although some vaccination programs may need to adjust their timing to accommodate a somewhat later-than-usual delivery of vaccine, health professionals at all levels of government are working together to minimize any potential impacts,” Anna Maddison, spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, wrote in an email Wednesday. The agency co-ordinates vaccine purchases by the provinces.
“Some provinces and territories may delay the official launch date of their public programs to account for the time required to redistribute the vaccine across their jurisdiction after it is received from the manufacturer,” she said.
With flu season set to start in the coming weeks, 55 per cent of the total vaccine order is currently available to be distributed across the country, the agency said. It aims to have 90 per cent of the supply by the end of the month.
The problem is being blamed on a shortage at the manufacturing level.
In Manitoba, government officials notified health-care providers Wednesday that orders are being cut.
“All health-care provider orders are being reduced … to ensure that as many health-care provider locations as possible receive vaccine as quickly as possible. Additional health-care provider orders will depend on vaccine availability,” read a Manitoba Health Department bulletin posted online.
The delays may affect the total number of flu shots available throughout the season, the department said, and some advertisements that promote the vaccine are being delayed.
Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said work is underway to ensure high-priority areas such as nursing homes get the vaccine.
“In situations like this, decisions are made in order to prioritize the vaccine that we have … and those decisions, strategically, will be undertaken,” Friesen said.
Health Canada recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over six months of age, especially the elderly, kids under five, pregnant women, and people with cancer, diabetes and other diseases.