The young and the pregnant targeted for vaccination

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Pregnant women and young children first, the province is urging this week as influenza vaccines run low.

 

An influenza vaccine is seen at the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region this month. 

With their supply of 280,000 doses used up, greater demand than usual continues, leaving health regions scrambling for more.

Since they began administering the vaccine on Oct. 21, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region has injected about 14,700 people, director of public health services Wanda Atcheson said.

“Typically by now we are completed with our flu clinics, and that’s because generally we give then in October and November so that we can immunize before flu season starts,” she said.

Although early clinics ran this year as they usually do, demand has persisted.

There are a number of possible reasons for the sustained demand, she said, surmising that continued media attention and recent influenza-related deaths may have contributed.

But, she said that the No. 1 thing that appears to have spurred Saskatchewan residents to demand the vaccine have been recent deaths of young people under the age of five.

“That really hits people a bit harder when you see those young deaths, and because of that, I think the majority of people coming in are of the young family age,” she said.

With supplies running low, next week’s batch of vaccines are earmarked for children under the age of five and pregnant women.

It’s currently unclear how many vaccines the local health region will receive next week, as well as who will be eligible to receive future shipments.

Typically by now we are completed with our flu clinics, and that’s because generally we give then in October and November so that we can immunize before flu season starts Wanda Atcheson

“The province is still working to procure some more vaccines, so those decisions will be made once they’re able to know if they have further vaccine -- so, we’ll wait and see,” Atcheson concluded.

In the midst of flu season, Atcheson is encouraging people to take measures to prevent its spread.

“Washing your hands with soap and water is really one of the best ways to protect against disease,” she said, adding that coughing and sneezing into sleeves is also recommended over doing so into one’s hand.

Those who are not pregnant or five years of age or younger can still purchase influenza vaccines, Atcheson said, noting that they can be purchased at pharmacies and administered by their family doctor.

Pending future announcements by the provincial government, Atcheson said that looking forward at next year, those who want a free vaccine should attend vaccination clinics early on in order to ensure they receive one.

For more information, the government is encouraging people to call the HealthLine at 811, or to visit the website, www.saskatchewan.ca/flu. 

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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