October 9, 2018 6:11 am
Updated: October 9, 2018 12:08 pm

Manitoba hopes to avoid record-breaking flu outbreak this season

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Manitobans are once again being encouraged to get a flu shot this season, in the hopes of preventing a record-breaking outbreak like last year.

Provincial Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced the official launch of the annual immunization campaign Tuesday morning in Morden.

“Getting the flu vaccine is important for the health of all Manitobans, but especially for those at increased risk of serious illness from the flu,” said Friesen.

“Every Manitoban knows an infant, a senior, someone with diabetes or asthma, or someone seeking treatment for cancer. Because of this, I encourage Manitobans to protect themselves, as well as others, by getting their no-charge flu immunization this fall.”

Last year saw a record number of people receiving flu vaccines in Manitoba, with 320,000 doses, or 22.5 per cent of eligible Manitobans, according to the province.

It was also a record year for another reason – 46 people with lab-confirmed flu cases died in Manitoba in 2017, with another 35 admitted to intensive care units. In total, there were more hospitalizations than in the previous two years combined.

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Virtually everyone should get the shot, according to Doctor Alan Katz, Director of the Manitoba Center for Health Policy.

“The flu shot does not cause the flu as some people seem to think it does. And the more of us that have it, the better off the rest of us are.”

He admits the shot is not 100 percent effective for everybody. Katz says the flu shot is free to all Manitobans.

READ MORE: When should you get the flu shot in Canada?

A special high-dose vaccine is also available for seniors residing in long-term care facilities. The vaccine, introduced last year, is aimed at reducing the number of outbreaks experienced in those facilities.

“Flu vaccines, are especially important for those of us as we age who have other conditions which become more complicated,” said Connie Newman, executive director of the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres.

Flu clinics will be held across the province later this month and in November. Contact Health Links/Info Santé at 204-788-8200 in Winnipeg or 1-888-315-9257 toll-free for dates, times and locations.

WATCH: Tips to keep your family healthy through the flu season

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