Flu vaccines available for all

Jodi Schellenberg
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After a shortage scare in the province the influenza vaccine was limited to those at high risk but now with more supply coming in things have changed.

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

The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region will be offering the vaccine to everyone in the region again. The Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday that it has received 107,000 doses of the FluMist nasal vaccine.

“As a region, we have got 3,500 doses that came in yesterday and we are going to get another 3,500 next week,” PAPHR chief medial officer Dr. Khami Chokani said. “We have essentially expanded its availability.”

The FluMist is different from the injectable vaccine since it is a live vaccine versus an inactive vaccine.

“One has to remember that the flu mist is for all the healthy people between two years and 59 years,” Chokani said. “It is because of the vaccine that we do have available (that we can target this age group). They have a better ability to respond and develop their immunity.”

For children under two, pregnant women and immuno-compromised people, there will still be injectable doses available.

Although the flu vaccine offers the best protection when it is administered earlier, Chokani urges people to still get vaccinated.

“Please, it is really important -- there is still time,” Chokani said. “You have to remember with the winter games coming here, it is really important that people get their flu shots before the winter games because we need to have good herd immunity around.

“We don’t want people saying I got the flu when I went to P.A.,” he added.

Although the vaccine is the best way to stay protected, Chokani said there are other ways to help protect yourself from contracting the virus.

“What I keep preaching to people and reminding them about is good old washing your hands,” he said. “Yes, the alcohol-based hand sanitizer is (good) but nothing will beat good old soap and water.”

He said good cough etiquette is also very important during flu season.

“Don’t cough into your hands, cough into the crook of your arm,” Chokani said. “If you are hacking and coughing, please don’t go out and visit people because you are going to spread it. It is better that if you are not well to stay home.

“If you have to go to a walk in or go to the ER because you are that sick, please ask the reception for a surgical mask so you not only protecting those who are around you, but you are also protecting yourself because there could be some other bugs as well,” Chokani said.

When you are not well, there is a higher chance you will contract other viruses, he explained. If not protected, people could contract an entero rhinovirus or whooping cough on top of their influenza.

Flu clinics will be available almost everyday in the city and there will also be clinics scheduled in Birch Hills, Shellbrook, Debden and Big River. Chokani said to call the local public health offices to find out when clinics will be occurring.

“Having this nasal spray now gives us an opportunity to encourage those who were not so willing or happy to get a needle in the arm that now at least they can, for lack of a better term, sniff in the vaccine.”


Clinics in Prince Albert will be:

• At the McIntosh Mall on Wednesday morning and afternoon, by appointment only;

• At the South Hill Mall on Thursday and Friday from 1 to 6 p.m., drop-in;

• At the South Hill Mall on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., drop-in;

• At the McIntosh Mall on Jan. 27 to 29 from 1 to 4:15 p.m., by appointment only;

• At the South Hill Mall on Jan. 30 to 31 from 1 to 6 p.m., drop-in.

Organizations: Ministry of Health

Geographic location: Birch Hills, Shellbrook, Debden Big River

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