Influenza immunization clinics begin in Sunrise Health Region on October 21, 2013. Public Health has 72 influenza immunization clinics planned to occur in 35 communities from October to December. In addition to community advertisements and posters a complete listing of all influenza immunization clinics is available on the Sunrise Health Region website and by dialing 811 for Healthline.
“There are many options for time and location of clinics and the influenza immunization is free to everyone in the health region,” says Medical Health Officer, Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, “We are asking everyone to attend a clinic and especially those at higher risk and health care providers.”
The injectable influenza vaccine cannot cause influenza. The vaccine contains only components of the influenza virus which trigger a person’s immune system to produce antibodies that protect the individual against complications associated with influenza. A public health nurse at each of the clinics will ask a series of questions to screen for the very few people who cannot be immunized because of unique circumstances.
Influenza viruses tend to mutate into new forms and the vaccine is adjusted each year to provide new protection which is why annual immunization is recommended.
Vaccination is especially recommended for individuals with a higher risk of becoming seriously ill with influenza including:
• Adults age 65 and over
• Persons with a chronic health condition including but not limited to diabetes, lung and heart disease, asthma, neurological conditions, cancer, kidney disease and children on long-term aspirin therapy
• Pregnant women
• Children aged 6 months to 5 years (59 months)
• Persons with severe obesity
• Residents of a nursing home or other care facility
Individuals in close contact with high-risk groups are also recommended to receive the immunization including those with close contact to infants less than 6 months of age or expecting a newborn, child and daycare workers, persons working with poultry or hogs, health care employees and volunteers and health science students.
“It is well known that, even when they have very mild disease or no signs of the disease at all, healthy people can transmit the virus to others, who may not be as fortunate.” says Dr. Nsungu. “Taking the annual influenza immunization is a way that our community can interrupt the transmission of influenza to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
On average, each year 30 to 40 people in Saskatchewan die from complications related to influenza.
In addition to receiving the influenza immunization, you can help prevent the spread of influenza by washing hands often or using alcohol based hand sanitizers, coughing and sneezing into your sleeve and using a tissue only once, cleaning surfaces often and staying home if you are ill.