By May Domingo, October 14 2020—
Amidst the pandemic, the Alberta government announced that influenza vaccines will be available province-wide starting Oct. 19.
The province has increased their order of influenza vaccines to anticipate the greater demand by the public. In Alberta, there are over 5,500 pharmacists working in approximately 1,500 community pharmacies across the province. Due to the pandemic, the process of getting vaccinated has changed this year.
Alberta Health Services is not running community-based clinics this year due to screening concerns and the impact on the number of people in line.
“We are not running a central clinic on campus either, rather [we’re] directing students to local pharmacies or family physician offices,” said Debbie Bruckner, Senior Director of Student Wellness, Access and Support.
University of Calgary students are able to get vaccinated at the Main Campus or the Foothills Campus only if they are meeting with one of their physicians. Prior to an appointment, students are required to undergo ten minutes of screening as recommended by Alberta Health Services.
Pharmacies are also offering all Albertans vaccines through pre-booked appointments.
“Individuals should call ahead to their local pharmacy to arrange for an appointment. They also need to understand the process and protection, like masks, that should be followed prior to and during the appointment,” clarified Matt Tachuk, Director of Pharmacy Practice at the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.
Health care plan or not, Bruckner encourages “the entire campus community” to get their influenza vaccines.
Tachuk shared a similar sentiment.
“Since many of the symptoms for influenza are similar to those experienced by individuals with COVID-19, it is important to continue to vaccinate our population against influenza this year.”
Furthermore, he clarified that the influenza virus is completely different from COVID-19.
“The influenza program helps vaccinate against the influenza virus, not the virus that causes COVID-19,” Tachuk said. Though there is no approved vaccine for COVID-19 as of now, Tachuk has guaranteed that “much work is being done.”
The Alberta Influenza Immunization Program is a voluntary program offered across the province at no cost to Albertans, beginning on Oct. 19 and running until the end of March 2021.