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The NWT will receive 28,000 doses of flu vaccine this year in preparation for higher demand for flu shots amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

That number of doses is double the number usually ordered for flu season, according to David Maguire, spokesperson for the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA).

“By getting a flu shot you can help protect yourself and those around you,” said Sue Cullen, chief executive officer with the NTHSSA. “You can also help additionally this year by reducing your chances of needing a Covid-19 test and, in turn, reducing the demand put on our health system.”

Flu clinic formats will differ this year and people experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness are asked to not attend vaccination clinics until their symptoms are resolved.

Clinics will be delivered in line with current public health recommendations and restrictions. Health and social services authorities are planning to provide a number of options for residents who wish to get their flu vaccination, including:

  • walk-in clinics with social distancing and masking precautions
  • booked appointments at local health centres
  • online appointment bookings in Yellowknife
  • early access clinics for essential workers and most vulnerable residents

Flu vaccines have not been administered in the NWT yet but will begin as soon as Oct. 13 in Beaufort Delta communities, with clinics opening in other regions in the following weeks until November.

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The mass flu clinic in Yellowknife will run Oct. 27-31 in the Multiplex DND gym and appointments can be booked online.

After the mass clinic, flu shot appointments will be available in Yellowknife every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from November until January.

Flu season peaks in December and January in the NWT.

A full list of clinic opening dates and where the clinics will operate in NWT communities is available here.

In contrast to other parts of Canada, pharmacies in the NWT aren’t offering flu shots as territorial regulations don’t permit them to do so.

“Immunizations are not within the scope of practice of pharmacists registered to practice in the NWT. Most pharmacists do not have or maintain that training,” said Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Damien Healy, citing the NWT’s Pharmacy Act.

A spokesperson for Loblaw, the parent company of Yellowknife’s Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy confirmed that Shoppers doesn’t offer flu vaccines in the NWT. Aaron Laborde, owner of Sutherland’s Drugs confirmed the same, and added that although his pharmacy doesn’t provide flu shots, it does give out information on where flu vaccines can be received.
The NWT and Nunavut are the only jurisdictions in Canada where pharmacies are unable to provide patients with flu shots, after Yukon pharmacists will for the first time begin administering the vaccines this year, the Loblaw spokesperson added.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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