Publicly-funded immunizations announced for this year

Dr. Ross Findlater is hoping people will get ready to roll up their sleeves once again this year for influenza immunization. Saskatoon Health Region’s Deputy Medical Health Officer says the process will be slightly different this year. “Vaccination is still recommended for people who received the H1N1 vaccine last year to ensure full protection for this flu season,” says Findlater. “However this year, individuals will only have to receive one immunization – the seasonal influenza vaccine, which includes last year’s H1N1 component.” Last year, there were two separate vaccines. Findlater says this year the vaccine is not adjuvanted.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health has launched this year’s seasonal immunization campaign and the Health Region is busy ramping up its plans for this fall. The Ministry has announced that this year only, there will be no charge for seasonal vaccine administered through the Health Regions.

The 2009 influenza campaign included two sets of vaccine.

Starting October 12, immunization clinics will begin both for the public and for Health Region staff, physicians and volunteers.

This year is expected to be a more typical influenza season. However, it is likely that H1N1 will be one of the main strains and so H1N1 protection is included in the single vaccine.

The immunization program is recommending priority vaccination for people at higher risk of influenza-related complications and those in contact with individuals at high risk including health-care providers. The Health Region is again encouraging all staff, physicians and volunteers to get immunized.

“Our patients, clients and residents deserve to be cared for in a safe environment and immunization is one way we, as health-care providers, can offer that additional safety,” says Shelly McFadden, Director of Worksafe and Employee Wellness. “Last year, we had a great response with 78 per cent of our staff and physicians receiving seasonal immunization and 84 per cent receiving the H1N1 vaccine. This year, we hope everyone will roll up their sleeves again.”

Managers will be receiving information about clinic times and locations for their staff in October and information will be posted on the InfoNet. Staff immunization will begin October 12.

Along with employee clinics, public clinics are being organized including a mass immunization site at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon for a specific period of time. This is to help handle demand for the vaccine, especially given two significant changes to the immunization program this year. There is an expanded list of high-risk groups.

“This is a post-pandemic year and we want to ensure everyone has access to this vaccine,” says Karen Grauer, manager of Disease Control with Public Health Services. “So, immunizations will be open from the first day to both high-risk and non-high-risk groups.” Public Health Services will set out a schedule for immunization to ensure minimal line ups at clinics and people are asked to follow the schedule. Physicians will also have access to vaccine to administer to their patients to help with program delivery.

Visit www.4flu.ca for clinic times and locations. More information will be available closer to clinic dates.