February 2019: Last Minute Flu Shots/Canada Food Guide & Dairy

The Rural Pharmacist: Flu shots & Canada Food Guide Removes Dairy

-Devon Myers, Pharmacist & Owner           

At the time of writing this article the Ontario government has ceased provision of the annual influenza vaccine to community pharmacies. Health Canada reports that the influenza season reached peak levels in the last week of December. Not surprising perhaps considering that family and friend gatherings generally peak throughout the holidays. Nonetheless, many patients continue to inquire about the availability of the vaccine and where they can have it administered.

            Fortunately, there are still a few places to have your flu vaccine administered this season. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit provides administration of flu vaccines by appointment on Wednesdays between 1pm – 5:30pm. After speaking with a nurse at the Health Unit she informed me that appointments are already booked into mid-February. Better late than never to call and make your appointment! Of note, the intranasal flu vaccine, FluMist, is not currently available at the health unit and may not return this season.

            Physician and nurse practitioner clinics are another resource to utilize. However, every clinic generally has their own policies and timetables. For that reason alone it’s worth calling your practitioner’s office ahead of time in order to ask for their advice. Lastly, the NorWest Community Health Centre provides mobile health services in areas such as Neebing, Nolalu, Murillo, Kaministiquia and Shebandowan. Earlier in the season they were providing an appointment-based program for flu vaccines. I am not sure if they are still providing this service but it’s certainly worth calling their office if interested.

             In recent news, the Government of Canada released their new food guide in January (last updated in 2007 with “Eating Well With Canada’s Food Guide”). As most people remember, recent versions of the food guideline were accompanied by a schematic representing different food groups and daily portions of each group. Think food pyramid or food rainbow. The new version has a more simplified schematic which illustrates the daily breakdown of food groups on one plate! Of notable mention, dairy was left out of the picture in this version. By no means does this make dairy a forbidden food source. However, people may find themselves adjusting their diet according to the new food guide. Accordingly, it is important to keep in mind that dairy products provide an excellent source of nutrients, especially calcium. 

            It is recommended that men and women between the ages of 51-70 aim to consume 1000mg of calcium each day to keep their bones strong. Those over the age of 71 are recommended to consume 1200mg per day. Alternative foods to help you boost your daily intake of calcium include collard greens, spinach, broccoli, canned sardines, salmon and anchovies and a variety of beans. Supplements are also available to help you reach your daily goals. We encourage anyone with questions to contact our pharmacy team!

            On a side note, the 2nd annual Rosslyn Winter Carnival will be taking place from February 22 -23 at the Rosslyn Community Centre. The coordinators of this event are working hard to put on a great weekend of activities for the community. Come out and show your support. We hope to see you there!