Everyone wants their flu shot, but with dwindling supplies not everyone will receive one this season.
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Flu clinics in PAPHR will be by appointment only due to shortage of supply.
After the initial January panic to get the flu shot, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region has implemented appointment only flu clinics within the region this week.
“The situation is very fluid and as such it is really on a day-to-day basis, which is why in our region we are quite specific that we would like people to either call to their public health office or check on our website or Facebook page for what the current situation is,” PAPHR medical health office Dr. Khami Chokani said.
Not only are the clinics appointment only, they are targeting certain age groups.
“We are now more focused and targeting in particularly children six month to five years old and we are targeting pregnant women and women who have just delivered babies in the previous four weeks,” Chokani said. “It is essentially because of the supply of the vaccine that we have.”
They are also targeting these groups of people because they are the ones who need and will benefit the most from the vaccination.
“In terms of the pregnant women, they are able to pass on the immunity onto their babies when they are born and then for the mothers who have just delivered, they will offer protection for their babies,” Chokani said.
Although they are no longer drop in, there will still be clinics held in the region.
“There are clinics that are being held this week, both within P.A. and the surrounding area,” Chokani said. “It is no longer drop in. This is because of the supply. We want to make sure that if you are scheduled for the clinic, there is vaccine that is there for you.
“If you don’t have an appointment, there will not be any vaccine for you because it is already allocated for those who have the appointments,” Chokani said.
Those who were already vaccinated in the fall are protected, he said.
“Having the flu shot every year is really important,” Chokani said. “As a member of the community, the one thing we should be doing as part of a community responsibility is to take your annual flu shot.
“It not only protects you yourself, but it helps provide protection to your loved ones and helps you to provide to contribute to developing herd immunity within your community,” he added. “If we can’t do that, it is unfair. People should keep up to date with it.”
Although those who have received the flu shot are protected from influenza, there are other viruses to watch for.
“You have to remember the influenza vaccine only protects you from influenza, it doesn’t protect you against the other circulating viruses that are there,” Chokani said. “There are quite a few that we do face. Right now, there is an entero rhinovirus that is going around. We don’t have any vaccines for that nor is there really any treatment for that except supportive care.”
He also said people should not panic about the deaths being reported connected with influenza.
“There are deaths every year, it is just a little disturbing when it is either the people who are near you or people who seemed healthy before and are all of a sudden ill -- If there are also babies involved it hits home,” Chokani said. “We are human and we do have that emotional attachment. We can’t lose that.”
Chokani reminds everyone to wash their hands and practise proper cough etiquette if they are feeling unwell.
“If you are not feeling well, please at least call ahead to your health care provider, let them know you are coming,” Chokani said. “If you are unwell and go to the doctor’s office, or the walk in clinic, please ask them for a mask. A simple mask you can wear will protect the others who are around you while you are waiting to be seen.”
The clinics are no longer drop in, so people are encouraged to call public health at 306-765-6510 in Prince Albert to set up an appointment. Clinics are scheduled for Tuesday morning and afternoon as well as Thursday afternoon.
Clinics will also be held in Spiritwood, Shellbrook and Big River. For more information, visit PAPHR website at www.princealbertparklandhealth.com or visit their Facebook page.