Saskatchewan changes focus on flu vaccinations

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Flu shots only being provided to children under five years of age and pregnant women

Saskatchewan changing focus of vaccination efforts

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Health officials are implementing plans to ensure that limited influenza vaccine supplies are used as effectively as possible. The province is now focusing vaccination efforts only on children under five years of age and pregnant women.

Approximately 25 per cent of Saskatchewan residents have received influenza vaccinations since last fall. However, the continuing high demand has used up the province’s supply of 280,000 doses, and additional supplies are limited.

“We know that there is a global vaccine supply issue, and we continue to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada and our partners in other jurisdictions to secure additional vaccine,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said. “While more vaccine is expected to arrive in the coming days, we feel it is now necessary to focus our vaccination efforts on those at highest risk from H1N1.”

Influenza cases continue to increase in Saskatchewan. The province has confirmed seven influenza-related deaths as of January 10, 2014, as well as a total of 32 intensive care unit hospitalizations and 618 lab-confirmed influenza cases this flu season.

H1N1, which continues to be the predominant strain circulating in Saskatchewan and across Canada, poses the greatest risk to those who were born after the strain first surfaced in 2009. Children under five years of age and pregnant women are most susceptible and at greatest risk of severe illness from HIN1.

A vaccine shipment expected next week includes a nasal spray influenza vaccine (FluMist). FluMist is licensed for use in Canada for people from two to 59 years of age. Other Canadian jurisdictions have made this vaccine their preferred vaccine for children between two and nine years, as now recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Dr. Werker added that as flu season continues, the province will continuously assess its approach and make changes as necessary. Health regions will be adjusting their vaccination plans and processes to serve children under five and pregnant women. Residents should check their health region websites for updated information, as plans for previously-announced flu clinics may have changed.

For information on influenza, symptoms and self-care, call HealthLine 811 or visit www.saskatchewan.ca/flu.

Organizations: Public Health Agency of Canada, Saskatchewan Health

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada

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