Vaccination: the healthy choice

Vaccines save lives. In fact, in the last 50 years, vaccines have saved more Canadian lives than any other medical intervention.

While vaccines have made many diseases rare in Canada, the organisms that cause them are still out there. If vaccination rates drop, we could see outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough) return. And diseases that are rarely seen in Canada are still prevalent in other countries, only a plane ride away, and it’s not possible to know where every person you come in contact with has been. When you get vaccinated you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people you are around—including babies who are too young to be vaccinated and people who cannot receive vaccines for medical reasons (such as undergoing cancer treatment or having a weak immune system).

Childhood immunization

Babies’ immune systems can fight off many germs, but there are some deadly diseases that they can’t handle. Children are exposed to thousands of germs every day through the food they eat, the air they breathe, and the items they touch. This is why childhood vaccinations are so important. Vaccines use tiny amounts of substances that help a child’s immune system learn to recognize and fight off serious diseases.

The Canadian Paediatric Society and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization currently recommend the following vaccines for children.

• 5-in-1 (DTaP-IPV-Hib) or 6-in-1 vaccine (DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib) protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib disease; 6-in-1 vaccine also protects against hepatitis B.

• Rotavirus vaccine protects infants against rotavirus, the most common cause of serious diarrhea in babies and young children.

• Pneumococcal vaccine protects against infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis (a brain infection), pneumonia, and ear infections.

• Meningococcal vaccine protects against diseases caused by the meningococcus bacteria, including meningitis and septicemia, a serious blood infection.

• MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

• Varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox, a very uncomfortable and sometimes serious infection.

• Hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B, a serious infection of the liver.

• dTap vaccine protects adolescents against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

• HPV vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus, the cause of a variety of cancers (anus, cervix, penis, vagina, vulva, mouth, and throat) and genital warts.

Your child’s healthcare provider can advise you on which vaccines your child should have and when to have them.

Not just kid stuff

Vaccines aren’t just for children. Adults need vaccines, too. The vaccinations you may need can vary depending on what vaccines you have had in the past, whether you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the type of work you do, if you are planning to travel, and if you have any health conditions.

Commonly recommended vaccines for immunization of healthy adults include:

• Td (diphtheria, tetanus): for adults who haven’t previously received the vaccine, plus a booster dose every ten years

• Herpes zoster (shingles): adults 50 years and older

• Human papillomavirus (HPV): women up to 45 years old and men up to 26 years of age (or older if at risk)

• Influenza (the flu): annually

• Measles, mumps: susceptible adults born in 1970 or later

• Meningococcal conjugate: adults up to and including 24 years of age who were not immunized in adolescence

• Pertussis: one dose of pertussis-containing vaccine in adulthood; adults who will be in close contact with young infants should be immunized as early as possible; one dose of Tdap vaccine should be administered in every pregnancy, ideally between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation

• Pneumococcal polysaccharide 23-valent: adults 65 years of age and older should receive one dose

• Pneumococcal conjugate 13-valent: adults at high risk

• Polio: Previously unimmunized adults

• Rubella: susceptible adults should receive one dose; if vaccine is indicated, pregnant women should be immunized after delivery (or one month before pregnancy)

• Varicella (chickenpox): susceptible adults up to and including 49 years of age should receive two doses

In addition to routinely recommended immunization, certain vaccines are recommended for adults in specific
risk situations. As an added benefit, some vaccines can lower your chances of getting other diseases in addition to protecting you from the diseases they are designed to prevent, for example:

• Hepatitis B vaccine lowers the risk of liver cancer.

• HPV vaccine lowers the risk of cervical and anal cancers.

• Flu vaccine lowers the risk of flu-related heart attacks and other flu-related complications from existing health conditions

Vaccine misinformation

Some people are afraid to get vaccinated, because they believe false stories about vaccines that they have heard from friends or have read in the media. Don’t be fooled by this misinformation and let it lead you to putting your health and that of your family at risk. Here are the facts that help clear up some of this misinformation:

• The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine does not cause autism. This story began 20 years ago when a British doctor published an article that supposedly made the connection. It was later discovered that his research was seriously flawed and that he had a financial interest in a company that was going to come out with a competing vaccine. The doctor lost his license to practice medicine, and many studies have disproved any link between autism and the vaccine.

• Vaccines are safe. In Canada, there are very strict guidelines governing the way vaccines are made. As with other medicines, vaccines are tested thoroughly before Health Canada approves them for use. Even after vaccines are in use, Health Canada continues to monitor them to see if any side effects appear.

• Vaccines do work. The fact that some people get the disease after being vaccinated doesn’t mean that vaccines are ineffective. Like just about everything else in life, vaccines are not absolutely 100% effective, so there is a chance that some people will not develop immunity to the disease after receiving the vaccine. However, even if a person does contract the disease, it is likely to be less severe than if the person had not been vaccinated.

Talk to your pharmacist about what vaccines are right for you and your family, and take the necessary steps to safeguard your health against preventable diseases. You can also learn more about what vaccines are offered at London Drugs here.

Flu-shot and Influenza season update from Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy

To our valued customers,

We’d like to share with you an update from Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy, on the flu shot and upcoming influenza season, including the safety measures we have taken at London Drugs to help keep you safe while in our stores.


Hello, I’m Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy and member of the executive committee, at London Drugs.

The unique circumstances surrounding the approaching influenza season have many of our customers and patients asking important questions about how best to protect their families, neighbours and vulnerable members of the community from the double threat of common flu strains and COVID-19. Questions such as, how can we keep our schools and public spaces safe?

With all the uncertainty, one thing is certain: the flu shot is safe, and it’s the most effective tool we have in protecting against influenza, preventing its’ spread and ultimately save lives.

And because the flu presents an added challenge for frontline healthcare workers, as well as the most vulnerable members of the community, just by getting a flu shot, you’ll be doing your part – taking care of your own health and the health of your community.

Flu shots are especially important for the elderly and young children, who are more susceptible to flu-related complications that can lead to serious health problems or even death. But it’s important to remember that even healthy individuals should get a flu shot because the higher the rate of vaccination, the greater the protection necessary for our most vulnerable individuals. This is also known as herd immunity.

To reinforce this important message, London Drugs is providing added incentive to get immunized. For every flu shot administered at any of our pharmacies, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to vaccinate children in a developing country against tetanus, polio or measles.

You are likely aware, at London Drugs we’ve introduced a multitude of measures to help keep you safe while in our stores; from decals on the floor so you know where to stand, to plexi-glass barriers between you and our cashiers and pharmacy team, rigorous constant cleaning and sanitation, as well as personal protective equipment and masks for all our staff and pharmacists.

Beyond getting your flu shot, handwashing, social distancing and mask-wearing will continue to be important for everyone heading into flu season and for the foreseeable future. We want to commend those who have been diligent about protecting themselves by taking these precautions and we urge everyone to continue to act responsibly in this way when they visit our pharmacy and other public areas.

Particularly as flu season approaches, we are urging anyone experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms to stay home. Even mildly ill patients should not visit the pharmacy. Our pharmacists are available by phone to provide guidance around symptom management. Most over-the-counter medicinal products can be ordered online at to be delivered right to your door.

Flu and coronavirus share common symptoms but there’s one big difference: a vaccine exists to prevent the flu – which is why it is more important than ever to get yours this year.

From our London Drugs family to yours,
Stay well and stay safe.




Everything You Need to Know: London Drugs 2019-2020 Annual Flu Immunization Program

Getting the Flu Shot at London Drugs

All 82 London Drugs locations offer a convenient way for Canadians to receive their annual flu shot. Patients can call the pharmacy or book online to make an appointment. All locations also offer vaccinations on a walk-in basis when London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacists are on staff.

Increasing Convenience to Increase Immunization Rates

Extended hours, appointments, as well as flexibility for walk-in patients has allowed London Drugs pharmacies to significantly improve ease of access to the flu vaccine with the goal of improving immunization rates. Now more than ever, busy Canadian families are taking advantage of pharmacies as an accessible and convenient alternative to public flu clinics, where they may have experienced long lines and wait times in previous years.

Nervous About Needles? New ‘ouchless’ flu shot option now available

With news that the flu vaccine won’t be available in nasal spray form for Canadians this year, London Drugs pharmacists hope that won’t deter people – especially children – from rolling up their sleeves.

To help reduce flu shot anxiety, London Drugs is offering an ‘ouchless’ option with a free application of Zensa Numbing Cream prior to administering the vaccination. Zensa is a Health Canada approved topical anaesthetic that desensitizes the skin in as little as ten minutes, lessening any potential pain experienced from a flu shot injection.

The goal of the initiative is to provide Canadians who may be fearful of the flu shot, especially children, with an option that may help quell their anxieties.

In BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, children ages five years and older can receive their flu shot at a pharmacy from a Certified Injection Pharmacist. In Manitoba, the flu shot can be administered to children seven years and older at the pharmacy. Zensa is safe for use on children ages 2 and up.

Need more reasons to get immunized? For every flu shot given at London Drugs, a lifesaving vaccine is donated to UNICEF

Simply by getting this year’s flu vaccine at London Drugs, you can play active role in helping to protect tens of thousands of children in other parts of the world from deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases. For every flu shot administered at London Drugs this year, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to immunize children in other countries from illnesses such as tetanus, polio and measles.

The vaccination donation campaign is in partnership with I Boost Immunity (IBI), an online immunization advocacy and learning platform supported by the Province of British Columbia and administered by the Public Health Association of BC. Since 2016, I Boost Immunity has donated over 750,000 vaccines for children through UNICEF through various campaigns.

What to Expect During the 2019-2020 Flu Season

Pharmacist Agusia McGrath spoke on Global News Morning Calgary about what to expect during the 2019-20 flu season, the need to get vaccinated and the misconceptions surrounding flu shots.

Who Can Get Vaccinated at London Drugs

London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacists can provide the flu vaccination to adults as well as children.

The injection regulations for pharmacists vary by province. Below is an overview.

When to Get Vaccinated at London Drugs

Getting vaccinated before flu season arrives gives the body the greatest chance to build up immunity to (protection from) the virus. Influenza activity in Canada typically begins to increase over the fall, and peaks in the winter months. Depending on the year, the peak may occur as early as fall or as late as spring.

To maximize your protection, get vaccinated annually as soon as the flu shot becomes available.

2019-2020 Flu Shot Launch Schedule

About the 2019/2020 Vaccine

Standard-Dose Vaccine

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the viruses that health experts believe will be circulating during the upcoming season. The flu vaccine for 2019-20 includes immunization against both H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A virus strains and either one or two influenza B viruses.

Fluzone High-Dose

Note: Due to manufacturer delays, Fluzone High-Dose availability is delayed until early December. Call ahead to confirm availability.

The Fluzone High-Dose is specially formulated to provide better protection for people over 65. Compared to the standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccines, the Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the antigen intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibodies) in older individuals, who generally respond at lower levels than younger individuals. The higher dose of antigen in the vaccine gives older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu.

Fluzone High-Dose is not currently publicly funded. It will be available for purchase at London Drugs at a cost of $75 when it becomes available.