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Some Island clinics now offering walk-in flu shots for kids

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Laurie Stofko waited a month to book a flu shot appointment for her kids, despite repeated warnings from the provincial government about how important it was to get her children vaccinated.

“It’s tough. You want to do the right thing, but if there's no shot or appointment available, you just have to wait your turn,” said Stofko Tuesday, outside the Victoria vaccine clinic in Quadra Village run by Island Health.

Many other parents CTV News spoke with also said they dealt with obstacles booking a slot for their children to get a flu vaccine, either waiting days for a chance to book a date after registering online, or dealing with long waits for a date when they did get to book.

Laura Berndt got her seven-year-old daughter Kara an appointment for a flu shot Tuesday, but it was several weeks in the making.

“Originally, it was hard to find dates and we had booked it a few weeks out," Berndt said. "Then she was sick, and we to reschedule a couple of times.”

Adding to the frustration, the province keeps warning folks the flu is more severe than usual this year – especially for kids – and flu shots are really important for young children, those under five years old. It’s a message provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated Monday.

“In September and in November, we reiterated the importance of protecting children – in particular 6 months and older – from influenza,” she said at a news conference about the importance of flu vaccines for children.

Help appears to be on the way, however.

Starting this week, there’s a push to streamline the process. Health clinics across Vancouver Island – including the one in Quadra Village, along with some pharmacies – are now open for walk-ins.

Island Health’s Dr. Mike Benusic says the development comes at a key time for fighting influenza.

“It takes about two weeks for the vaccine really to have the best effect on the body, so getting it now can ensure that before the holiday season kids will have that best defence,” said Benusic Tuesday.

Walk-ins will be available at certain Vancouver Island clinics during the next three weeks.

Parents can also book appointments over the phone, as well as online.

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