Manitoba upping order of high-dose flu vaccine amid coronavirus

The Manitoba government is upping its order of the high-dose flu vaccine in anticipation of high demand this flu season amid the coronavirus. File / The Canadian Press

The Manitoba government is increasing its order of the high-dose influenza vaccine and expanding the list of people eligible for the shots this flu season.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday health officials anticipate an increased demand for the vaccine amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

“The flu season is always challenging, but COVID-19 will make it even more difficult. That’s why our government is taking every precaution to help keep Manitobans safe,” Friesen said in a release.

“By doubling our order of high-dose influenza vaccine and making it available to more people at high risk of contracting the flu, we are able to protect them, as well as our health-care providers on the front line.”

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Last flu season, when 26 per cent of Manitobans got the vaccine and 29 Manitobans died of the flu, the province ordered 11,500 of the high-dose vaccine. This year, Friesen said the order will increase to up to 21,500 shots.

The high-dose influenza vaccine is formulated for people aged 65 and older, and it’s usually made available to those living in long-term care facilities, clients in interim or transitional care beds, respite care clients and unimmunized residents admitted to long-term care homes during the flu season.

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Friesen said the province will open up the criteria for the vaccine to include:

  • Residents of supportive and assisted living housing.
  • Those who are newly incarcerated or transferred from other federal or out-of-province correctional facilities.
  • Those receiving home care services while on a waiting list for admission to a long-term care facility.
  • Those living on a First Nation or in remote communities.
  • Those living north of the 53rd parallel of latitude.

Pharmacy, doctors and other providers can start ordering their influenza vaccine orders Aug. 17, with the shots expected to arrive in late September.

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“Manitobans need to plan for a challenging flu season as COVID-19, influenza and colds will be occurring at the same time this fall,” Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said in the release.

“Getting the flu vaccine or the high-dose influenza vaccine is an important step that will help keep you and those around you healthy this season. Staying home when you are sick, practising good hand hygiene and covering your cough also helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.”

More information on the vaccine is available on the province’s website or by calling Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 in Winnipeg or 1-888-315-9257 anywhere in the province.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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