(Canadian OH&S News) — Both Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia are gearing up for the flu season by encouraging their respective residents to take the flu shot.
According to a statement from the Saskatchewan government, the publicly funded influenza (flu) vaccine has been available since Oct. 19. For the first time in Saskatchewan, pharmacists cans provide free flu vaccinations this year as part of the province’s influenza immunization program. Approximately 200 of the 360 community pharmacies in the province plan to participate.
“We are pleased pharmacists will offer this important service,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “This additional option means increased access, choice and convenience for our residents.”
As in previous years, the free vaccine will be offered through public health clinics across the province and some physician and nurse practitioner offices, the statement added.
In Nova Scotia, the provincial government is urging high-risk groups to get a flu shot as soon as possible. “Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself and loved ones from the flu,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine.
Workers or people who live with or care for people in high-risk groups include nurses, paramedics, doctors and caregivers. Seniors, children from six months to five years of age, Aboriginal people, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes also belong to the high-risk group that is strongly encouraged to get flu shots. Seasonal flu vaccine is available from most pharmacies, family doctors, family-practice nurses, nurse practitioners, many workplaces and through clinics offered by some public health offices.
“Last year, 40 per cent of Nova Scotians got a flu shot, and we hope to see more this year,” said Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health. “Our publicly funded immunization program is an important part of the government’s commitment to promote health and prevent illness.”
The province is providing the quadrivalent vaccine recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. The vaccine contains two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.
Proper hygiene, such as hand washing and covering noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing, is also important to prevent the spread of influenza and many other infections. People with flu symptoms should stay home and minimize close contact with others, the Saskatchewan government statement advises. Flu symptoms often include a sudden high fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny, stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat. It can lead to more severe illness, such as pneumonia, or even death.