As COVID-10 vaccines are now on the horizon, the debate resumes over whether they should be mandatory (iStock/Pornpak Khunatorn)

Flu vaccine and personal protective equipment shortages concern physicians

With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is concerned with the challenges physicians are facing in regards to accessing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and the flu vaccine. 

According to a survey of CMA members, despite improvements in the distribution of PPE, 54 per cent of physicians continue to have difficulties when trying to acquire it. Sixty-eight per cent of physicians are worried that suppliers will not have enough stock of PPE, 62 per cent said they expect orders to be delayed, and 51 per cent are worried that global demand will hinder Canada’s ability to acquire sufficient stock. 

“We continue to see outbreaks throughout the country and with resurgences of COVID-19 now before us, it’s imperative that governments ensure our front-line workers are protected, not only in hospital settings but also in community practice settings, as they form our first line of defence against this pandemic,” said Dr. Ann Collins, the president of the CMA, said in a statement.

Over 86 per cent of physicians are also concerned that the upcoming flu season will strain the health care system. 

Of physicians who give the flu vaccine within their practice, 85 per cent said the system needs additional capacity to accommodate for the increased demand for flu vaccines this year, and 50 per cent said that they will not be able to secure enough vaccines to meet demand. 

“Immunization for influenza is more important than ever this year. We need to avoid a possible twin epidemic of flu and COVID-19 as it can be devastating to patients and our ability to sustain health care delivery,” Dr. Collins said. “We need to focus on greater funding and resourcing of public health to support mass vaccination efforts.”

The survey was conducted by the CMA with 1,459 physician members between Aug. 19 and Aug. 24. 

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