Wednesday July 30, 2014

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SCHR changing approach to Influenza Immunization

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The Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) is focusing its public health influenza immunization clinics on pregnant women and children six months to five years of age.

Pregnant women and children between six months of age and five years of age will be the only groups of people eligible to receive flu shots at the public health clinics in SCHR and throughout the province.

Saskatchewan Health is working with its partners to secure additional vaccines and distribute it to the health regions as it becomes available.

Flu season generally begins in November and continues until March/April. SCHR began offering vaccination to staff and the public on October 21. Public interest in the flu shot has been higher all season in SCHR and has increased in recent weeks.

The H1N1 strain has been predominant from the start of the influenza season and it is expected that children less than five years of age are at greater risk as they will not have immunity to H1N1 and will be more susceptible. Pregnant women are also at increased risk for severe illness from H1N1.

H1N1 is the same strain that first appeared in 2009 and it has been included in influenza vaccines since 2010.

Dr. Shauna Hudson, Medical Health Officer for Sun Country Health Region, reminds the public they should take all other precautions to avoid the seasonal influenza infection. That includes adopting infection prevention methods such as frequent hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, cleaning surfaces often and staying at home when sick.

If people are sick they should not visit residents in long-term care facilities or hospitals within the Region, said Hudson.

SCHR is also encouraging all visitors who are not immunized to wear a mask when they visit residents and patients in its health care facilities to protect vulnerable residents.

Masks are available at the entrances to health care facilities or can be obtained by speaking with the nursing staff.

If you are the parent of a child between six months of age and five years of age, or are a pregnant woman, please call your local Public Health office to make an appointment for an influenza immunization.


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