Flu shot denied to man with HIV
Dirty, embarrassed and humiliated was how a Calgary man with HIV was left feeling after being denied a standard flu shot because of the virus.
Nick, who requested his last name be withheld, headed to the Co-op Midtown Market pharmacy Wednesday for a pre-arranged appointment to receive this year’s flu vaccine.
In the moments leading up the shot, the pharmacist asked if there was anything else she should be made aware of and Nick informed her that he’d been diagnosed with HIV in June.
“She ran out of the room to talk to someone, came back and said we are not set up for this,” Nick said.
The pharmacist claimed the vaccine could negatively react with Nick’s medication but he informed her he wasn’t taking any. “They still wouldn’t do it,” he said. “That was it — I wasn’t going to demand they poke me.”
Co-op spokesperson Karen Allan said her organization has since apologized and plans to readdress procedures with all of its certified pharmacists in the city.
“It’s the pharmacist’s personal knowledge,” she said. “If they don’t feel comfortable because they don’t have the knowledge, that’s when they refer them to someone else.”
AIDS Calgary executive director Simonne LeBlanc said while the incident seems to stem from the misunderstanding of one pharmacist, it was still unfortunate.
“HIV is a hugely stigmatized illness and, man, people get all kinds of weird reactions around people that have it, and that’s really sad,” she said.
Nick has already taken his concerns to the Alberta College of Pharmacists and was considering filing a formal complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. “Being new to this, it was awful,” he said. “I was disgusted and wonder if others had experienced the same thing in the past.”
LeBlanc said there's really no reason he couldn't have been taken care of right there at the pharmacy. "There's still nurses, there's still dentists and there's still doctors who just don't have enough exposure to it or understanding of it," she said."I think that's what it is most often. For people that are living with it, there is a lot of stigma associated with it."
The man felt discriminated against, LeBlanc said. "This might be a teaching moment"