Only 8,460 of the 44,000 residents in the Cypress Health Region have received their free influenza immunizations, raising the possibility of a serious outbreak and putting vulnerable community members at a much higher risk of contracting the disease.
“We know that the better coverage rates that we can get on any kind of immunization provides that greater protection for the community as a whole, so when we’re only seeing 8400 people in a region of 44,000, that’s a small percentage of the population that’s actually covered for influenza,” explained Beth Vachon, CEO, Cypress Health Region.
Vachon noted that even those who do not present symptoms may in fact be carriers of influenza who inadvertently infect those who are least resistant to the virus, such as infants, the chronically ill and the elderly.
“People make the decision not to because they’ve never had the flu, but the less people immunized, the more people who are at risk and particularly our vulnerable community members.”
This year’s vaccination covers the same three strains of flu as last year: the 2009 H1N1 strain, an influenza A called H3N2, and an influenza B component.
The Cypress Health Region hopes to immunize a total of 15,000 residents this flu season. Flu vaccines are still available at no cost to residents of Saskatchewan at the following drop-in clinics, without an appointment, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
• Maple Creek, Community Health Office, Nov. 10
• Shaunavon, Public Health Office, Nov. 14
• Leader, Community Health Office, Nov. 15
• Ponteix, Ponteix Health Centre, Nov. 16
• Swift Current, E.I. Wood Building, Nov. 18 and 25, Dec. 2 and 9
After these dates, residents may receive an immunization by calling 1-866-786-2510 for an appointment.