SASKATOON – Flu season is right around the corner and the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) wants to make sure everyone in the city and surrounding areas gets vaccinated.
2013 influenza clinics opened Monday in the SHR and run until Dec. 14 to provide residents, 6 months or older, with a free flu shot.
People can get immunized at any public clinic in Saskatoon or at those offered in surrounding communities. Some doctor’s offices offer the shot as well.
It should take around 30 minutes to get vaccinated. The process will move much quicker if people show up with their health card and completed consent form.
Influenza is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person through coughs, sneezes and/or contact with nose or throat secretions. It can lead to problems like pneumonia and high fevers and seizures in children.
High-risk groups for influenza include those with chronic health conditions, seniors, long-term care facility residents, severely obese people, children under five and pregnant women.
SHR says the vaccine is “inactivated” which means the virus has been killed before being made into a vaccine. It has the ability to stimulate the body’s immune system but cannot cause disease.
Antibodies to prevent influenza develop within two to three weeks after immunization in most healthy children and adults.
There is a vaccine available via nasal spray at pharmacies but the cost is not covered by the provincial government.
Besides a flu shot, people can prevent influenza by frequently washing their hands, coughing and sneezing into sleeves, disinfecting surfaces and staying home when sick.