Health officials are encouraging Saskatchewan residents to protect themselves against influenza this season by getting immunized. Saskatchewan’s publicly-funded seasonal influenza vaccine will become available across the province beginning October 9, 2012.
“Vaccines help keep our population healthy by preventing the spread of disease,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “We are pleased to offer the influenza vaccine free of charge to our residents through Saskatchewan’s immunization program.”
While all individuals six months of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine as part of this year’s immunization program, high-risk groups are especially encouraged to get the influenza vaccine.
High-risk groups for influenza include people with chronic health conditions, people 65 and over, residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, children from six months up to 5 years of age and pregnant women. Vaccination is also encouraged for individuals in close contact with those at high risk of influenza-related complications.
“Influenza is a contagious viral disease of the respiratory system that can be spread by coughing, sneezing or touching surfaces like door handles and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes,” Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. “Getting the vaccine is an effective way to stay healthy during the influenza season and we particularly recommend it for those at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization.
“You can also further protect yourself against seasonal influenza and other flu viruses by adopting infection prevention methods such as frequent hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, cleaning surfaces often and staying at home when sick.”
The publicly-funded (free) vaccine will be available through public health clinics and physicians’ offices. Pharmacies and some health care providers may be selling influenza vaccine directly or providing it as part of workplace health programs. Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health does not reimburse individuals or businesses for influenza vaccine purchased privately.
To find the nearest immunization clinic, residents can contact their public health office, physician, health region or call HealthLine at 1-877-800-0002. Information on clinic locations and schedules will also be available on the websites of regional health authorities. For more information on the provincial immunization program and influenza visit the Ministry of Health’s website at www.health.gov.sk.ca and Healthline Online at www.healthlineonline.ca.