ALBERTA

Calgary Flu Shot: London Drug Vaccinations Called 'Queue-Jumping'

12/07/2013 01:47 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST
Jeff McIntosh/CP

The Alberta government is being criticized for allowing some to jump the line to get a flu shot, while others are forced to wait.

“It’s unacceptable for the PC government to allow a pharmacy to sell a life-saving vaccine to those who can afford it, while other Albertans have been unable to find a place to get vaccinated because of supply issues,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason in a statement.

London Drugs pharmacies in Calgary have been selling the vaccine for a $20 cost at a time when some Alberta pharmacies face shortages.

The chain has purchased and sold its own supply for the past five years and made the shot available earlier than the province this year, according to CBC News.

"There's certain Albertans that need their shots before it becomes publicly available, which is on Oct. 21 of this year, because they might be snowbirds going down south ahead of time," Chris Chiew, pharmacy operations manager at London Drugs, told CBC.

The NDP says it is a form of queue-jumping in the health system.

“This is classic two-tier health care, where those who can pay jump the queue and those who can’t wait in long lines because the Minister and AHS haven’t provided adequate services or adequate supply," said Mason in a statement.

The government must guarantee pharmacies "provide fair, public care for all Albertans—not backdoor access for those who can," he added.

Health Minister Fred Horne urged Albertans on Friday to get vaccinated and nearly one million Albertans have received the flu shot, as of Wednesday.

"Thanks to the efforts of our immunization teams we have been able to vaccinate more people to date this year than during all of last year,” Horne said in a statement.

Alberta Health Services says nine people have died in the province after getting the flu, 70 were admitted to intensive care and 288 have been treated in hospital.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford reassured the public on Tuesday that there was enough flu vaccine to meet demand.

"There is no reason for anyone to be panicking," she said.

"Everyone who has wanted to get this has been able to get it up until now."

With files from The Canadian Press

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Healthcare Queue Jumping in Alberta and B.C.