Fraser Health is reinstating seven flu vaccination clinics for seniors in various community centres after its decision to halt them this year triggered a backlash.
More than 40 community centres that hosted seniors flu shot clinics last year were told earlier this fall they would not be run again as people have increasingly gone to pharmacists and doctors’ offices instead in recent years.
Health Minister Terry Lake ordered a review after the NDP made it an issue in the Legislature last week.
Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said public health nurses will run clinics after they were requested by the nine community centres. There will be three in Burnaby (Bonsor, Edmonds and Cameron), and others in South Surrey at Centennial Park, at Guildford in Surrey, at a friendship centre in Agassiz and a seniors centre in Mission. Times and other details are to be posted at immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu once they’re confirmed.
Some other community centres also organized on-site shots by pharmacists, but that option may have been seen by others as “playing favourites” with a particular business, Juma said.
She said the main concern was that pharmacies and other locations weren’t as accessible for seniors as the community centres they routinely visit.
There have also been complaints of lack of privacy in supermarket pharmacies and administration charges by some pharmacies – which Juma said should not happen for seniors.
“If you are eligible for a free flu vaccine shot there should be no cost whatsoever,” she said, adding those incidents should be reported to the public health unit or the B.C. College of Pharmacists.
“Seniors should not be paying any type of fee to get their flu shot.”
The shift in focus away from seniors centres was intended to let public health staff focus more on other groups, including people in homeless shelters and children under five, who cannot be vaccinated by a pharmacist.