Via thespec.com, a report by Helen Branswell of The Canadian Press: Surge for late-season flu shots catches officials off guard. Excerpt:
Canada has identified an additional half-million flu shots it could purchase to try to meet a soaring late-season demand for the product.
However, the deputy head of the Public Health Agency of Canada admits the country may still run out of vaccine if people in Central and Eastern Canada follow the lead of Western Canadians and rush to get flu shots.
The unexpected surge has caught health officials across the country off guard, coming at a time when vaccine clinics would normally be winding down. With manufacturers now busy producing flu shots for the upcoming Southern Hemisphere winter, there is limited additional supply to buy.
The original Canadian order, placed in early 2013, was for 10.4 million doses. In many years, a purchase of that size would have left tens and even hundreds of thousands of doses unused. Last year, for instance, doctors and clinics in British Columbia returned 90,000 unused doses to the province at the end of the season.
Perplexingly, last year's flu season was harsher than this year's — or at least from what can be seen to date. But the main strain this year, H1N1, can hit young and middle-aged adults very hard. Reports of people in that demographic being hospitalized, placed in intensive care and occasionally even dying have received heavy media coverage.
That has spiked the public's perception of risk, experts suggest. Add to that word of potential vaccine shortages, and Canada is seeing the flu shot equivalent of a run on the bank.