We have received many calls with concern that their community pharmacy has already run out of the influenza vaccine. I want to reassure you that although there was a preliminary distribution of influenza vaccine around October 7-9th from public health, the actual launch date of full distribution to pharmacies is not until October 26th. Pharmacies will be able to order from this date onward through their standard wholesaler under the direction of public health. Both the standard dose and high dose vaccines will be available. The high dose has four times the amount of inactivated influenza vaccine and has shown to illicit a greater immune response (more antibodies) against the flu for people who age 65 or older. This does not mean that the standard dose will not work for a person over 65 but if you can access the high dose and you are age 65, it is suggested . In provinces other than Ontario, the high dose is only being distributed to long term care homes. We are fortunate in Ontario to have extra doses that are being distributed to family physicians and pharmacies. The best protection however is for everyone around you, including yourself, to be vaccinated as this is what reduces spread the most.
For those who are taking advanced therapies for their autoimmune disease, such as biologic treatments, it is safe to get either influenza vaccine as they are both inactivated. There is no need to hold or delay a dose of your biologic to receive any non-live vaccine. If there is a perfect time to get your influenza vaccine when the effectiveness could be a littler greater, it would be 2 weeks before your next biologic dose when the level of drug is lowering. The vaccine takes 2 weeks to process. For people doing a weekly or every other week dose, take the vaccine half way between your doses.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is suggesting when booking an appointment for the influenza vaccine, that you consider what other vaccines you are in need of. This could include the pneumonia vaccines (Prevnar 13 first followed by Pneumovax 8 weeks later), the shingles vaccine (Shingrix given as 2 doses, 2-6 months apart) and others including the tetanus shot given every 10 years. Multiple vaccines can be given at the same time.
Important Update to our Blog…
We have very much enjoyed bringing you this weekly blog for the past few years. As of this month, we will be publishing blogs on a bi-weekly basis. However, if there is critical information that needs to be shared, we will post more often. We also bring you content over on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so you can always tune in there if you miss having us in your inbox as frequently!
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.