A downtown Hamilton pharmacy is rethinking how it’s able to offer the flu vaccine to patients as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

The Pharmasave in the Medical Arts building on James Street South will be holding a drive-thru flu clinic in its parking lot between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Those who book an appointment can pull into a parking space at their designated time and sit in their vehicle with the door open or the window rolled down while a pharmacist gives them the shot.

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Pharmacy manager Priya Sidhu said they’re hoping this will be the first of many drive-thru clinics they’re able to hold in the coming weeks and months.

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“As soon as we get the next allotment of flu shots, which we’re hoping for next week, then we’d like to roll out more of these drive-thru flu clinics,” said Sidhu. “Because I really do believe this is a really safe way for people.”

Most years, Sidhu said they need to actively urge people to get the flu vaccine, but this year has been different.

“Within, I believe, a couple of days of receiving our first shipment of flu shots, we were completely booked up. So we have a long waitlist of patients already, and we’re just pleading with the Ministry of Health to release more vaccines to us sooner because of this.”

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Ontario pharmacies experience shortages of flu shot amid coronavirus pandemic

Despite concerns about the vaccine supply in Ontario, provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said last week that there are ‘no shortages’ of flu shots and that shipments are being sent to pharmacies on a regular basis.

“The supplies come in on a regular basis — if not weekly, every two weeks, so they are coming in,” said Elliott during last Wednesday’s media briefing.

“When they arrive at each individual pharmacy … I can’t say whether you’re going to have enough or not, depends on how many people show up there and want to receive the vaccine.”

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She recommended Ontarians call ahead to their local pharmacy or primary care physician to check their supply before going out to get the vaccine.

While the flu shot won’t protect against COVID-19, Sidhu said it has its part to play while the virus continues to spread in the community.

“It certainly will help for doctors to really differentiate if anybody has COVID or the flu, because the symptoms are so similar that we should hopefully be able to rule out one over the other.”

A list of places in Hamilton where you can get the flu shot is available on the city’s website.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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