A rise in cases of influenza across the country is prompting many people to seek out vaccine here in Saskatoon Health Region. In Saskatchewan, several cases of H1N1 have resulted in hospitalizations and even death. Provincial health officials are encouraging people to attend a second series of flu clinics across Saskatchewan.

The Health Region is hosting additional mass immunization clinics in Saskatoon and Humboldt.

This young girl, daughter of a Saskatoon Health Region employee, is one of the 63,814 people who have received the flu vaccine.

This young girl, daughter of a Saskatoon Health Region employee, is one of the 63,814 people who have received the flu vaccine.

Influenza is a serious and highly infectious respiratory illness. People who have influenza typically have fever and chills, cough, muscle aches, headache, fatigue and a runny nose. The disease affects up to one in five Canadians in any given year. Serious illness and even death occurs in people 65 years of age and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Flu facts:
You can infect others one day before your start feeling sick with influenza and up to seven or more days after you become sick.

  • Influenza virus can live on hard surfaces like door knobs and countertops for 48 hours. Regular cleaning of these surfaces with normal household disinfectants can help.
  • Everyone over six months of age, with very few exceptions, should get immunized.
  • It is not possible to get influenza from the vaccine. The virus in the vaccine has been killed. When it enters the body it stimulates the immune system to attack when a person is exposed to the live virus.

Deputy Medical Health Officer Dr. Shovita Padhi experienced the flu firsthand in 2009 when she contracted H1N1 before a vaccine was made available. “I was healthy prior to getting infected with the flu. It was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life.” Down and out for two weeks, it was a full four months before Padhi fully recovered from the illness. In 2013 she received her vaccine in front of a group of reporters at a media event kicking off the influenza vaccine season, with many members of the media following suit in front of waiting cameras.

So far, 63,814 people have been immunized, including Health Region physicians, employees and volunteers. There have been many public opportunities for immunization including 49 mass immunization clinics and at 31 seniors’ buildings. Another 14 physician offices and 16 medical practices have also offered vaccine.

“The vaccine is effective in preventing the predominant strain of influenza observed, which is H1N1, so we were happy to see so many people get immunized,” says Padhi. “Getting your influenza immunization is the best way to protect yourself and your family.”

Sixty-two percent of Saskatoon Health Region employees, physicians and volunteers have already been immunized. “Health-care workers play a big role in preventing the spread of influenza and so far about 38 per cent of Saskatoon Health Region employees have yet to be immunized,” says Padhi. Immunization is offered to Health Region staff through occupational health and safety offices.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is closely monitoring vaccine supply in light of evolving demand and taking all possible steps to ensure a sufficient supply for Saskatchewan residents who wish to receive a flu shot. “We are working with our regional health authorities and also with our federal partners and other provinces to enable vaccine supply,” says Dr. Denise Werker, Saskatchewan’s deputy chief medical health officer.

Visit the Government of Saskatchewan’s information page on influenza at http://www.saskatchewan.ca/flu.