Province launches annual flu shot campaign

A table contains everything necessary to administer the flu shot. Christian Aumell/Global News

With flu season upon us, the provincial government wants you to get your flu shot.

The province is introducing a high dose vaccine this year, which makes us the first in Canada to do so.

You also have the option to receive the flu shot as a nasal spray if you’re eligible.

“Part of the herd immunity issue is that there might be people around you who are shedding it and you don’t even know it,” explained Dr. Elise Weiss, acting chief provincial public health officer. “If there’s more people around you who have been protected, it protects the ones who haven’t.”

Last year’s flu season saw 12 people die in the province. There were 150 flu-related hospitalizations across the province, and 22 of those cases ended up in the ICU, but each year is different.

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“It’s always a guessing game in the sense that we won’t know until it gets here,” Dr. Weiss said. “Often what’s happening in the Southern Hemisphere may have some bearing on what’s going to happen here, but we really don’t know until it gets here.”

The province is in the process of distributing the free vaccine to pharmacies, clinics, nursing stations and doctor’s offices.

“What we’re putting into you are four different, inactivated vaccines: two for different strains of flu A and two of flu B,” explained public health nurse Kim Wilton. “Flu A is the big, monster flu that we’re all afraid of, B is its lesser brother, and there is a C but we don’t bother vaccinating for that because it’s so mild.”

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There are only four flu shot clinics in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, but Dr. Weiss said there is a reason for that.

“We’re trying to target those who are more at risk of getting complications from the flu. It allows the public health nurses to go out to those areas where traditionally it’s harder for people to access those services.”

The province hopes everyone gets the shot, but especially recommends that those under seven and over 65 receive it.

WHRA Flu Clinic Schedule:

  • Garden City Community Centre: October 17, noon-7 p.m.
  • Holy Eucharist Parish Centre: October 18, noon-7 p.m.
  • Portage Avenue Church: October 19, noon-7 p.m.
  • Dakota Community Centre: October 20, noon-7 p.m.

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