Health Minister Terry Lake asked Fraser Health to review its move to eliminate seniors flu shot clinics at community centres.

Seniors flu clinics may be reinstated

Fraser Health reviews decision to end vaccinations at seniors centres after NDP raises issue

Fraser Health is reconsidering its elimination of mobile flu shot clinics in seniors community centres after the NDP made it an issue Tuesday in the B.C. Legislature.

The health authority had notified senior centres that previously hosted flu clinics that they would not be offered there this fall.

Fraser officials say they’ve scaled down use of those clinics over the past three years as seniors increasingly use flu clinics offered in pharmacies and doctor’s offices instead. Mobile clinics would instead focus on harder to reach people, including the homeless.

“I understand Fraser Health is trying to make sure that the services for influenza vaccines are optimized, and they made a decision to concentrate resources for younger patients,” Health Minister Terry Lake said in Question Period. “I’ve asked them to go back and look at that.”

Lake was responding to a question from NDP leader John Horgan, who called the result a victory for seniors who were about to be denied their usual vaccination option.

Lake said flu shot access has greatly expanded since pharmacists were approved to perform them.

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma would not guarantee flu shots will now be reinstated at the same centres as last year, adding Fraser Health will review where they are needed.

“Our public health nurses and officers will connect back with all clinics to see if there’s still a need,” Juma said. “If we get information back that individuals can’t get access to the vaccine we will look at how we can address that barrier.”

She said fewer and fewer seniors have been using the mobile clinics that were cut, but was unable to provide statistics.