Flu Shot Adventure

I have been on a quest for a few weeks to get my flu shot. In my neck of the woods, there has been a shortage. Not everywhere, but it seems to be with the supply to local doctor's offices. The good news is that the pharmacies have had a steady supply and I assume that they are the most accessible to most of the population. I even witnessed lines for vaccines, which were wonderful to see.

Where could I get my flu shot?

My challenge was that I could not seem to get the timing right. I tried to get it at a community health clinic associated with a major hospital when I went to a specialist appointment. I thought I could multitask. What I discovered was that there was a shortage or delays in the supply chain to these clinics.

The public health clinics were several weeks away from opening, and during a fall when I have been plagued with illness I was not taking any chances. This was early in the season, so I chalked it up to the keeners and those that were regularly associated with the clinic.

Why the rush?

It seems like my life always just needs to be a bit complex or there is a mountain to climb. Fast-forwarding to a few weeks later, I was under a crunch. I would be starting an investigational drug and I needed to have my flu vaccine within a very specific window as there are some unknowns about possible reactions or loss of efficacy.

Of course, it is better to be safe, plus every itty bitty thing is documented in a clinical trial. I didn’t want to give the principal investigator or the sponsor the trial a reason to suspect a violation in the protocol. I had been waiting for this trial opportunity for quite some time, as I thought that it was really going to improve my asthma control.

Which flu vaccine do I need?

The general answer is that most people under 65 years will get the standard vaccine which provides protection against four strains of the flu virus.1

Another option that is generally recommended for those over 65 and those with a compromised immune system is the high dose vaccine. This vaccine provides protection for approximately 3 virus strains at higher doses.1

I started off trying to connect with the standard vaccine. Then, in a discussion with my respirologist, it was recommended that I would likely be better served by the high dose vaccine, given the state of my immune system, long term use of daily oral corticosteroids, and other associated recent illness.

Still searching for the flu shot

I was on a second and third quest just to locate the vaccine. Since I mad missed the window that was in relation to my investigational drug, I was going to have to wait two weeks for the vaccine and then I would have to delay the dosing of my drug another two weeks after the vaccine. Trying to get this vaccine on a specific date was a challenge. I once again ran into the shortage issue and calling around was reminiscent of shopping for a coveted Christmas toy. Unfortunately, a lot of the answers I received were about calling back on a specific day and hoping for the best.

While I am still on this mission, I hope to have it solved shortly. I did not have the flu earlier this season even after it was highly suspected. Thanks to the good folks in public health and their swab test, I am lucky enough to be flu-free thus far.

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