Flu season is almost upon us.

If you haven’t already received a vaccine for influenza and plan to get one, don’t delay.

The Saskatoon Health Region’s Immunize or Mask policy will come into effect on December 1, 2014 and continue to April 3, 2015, as declared by the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer (please note that these dates may change if influenza season comes early or lasts longer).

A flu shot is administered.

The influenza vaccine is the most effective way to avoid contracting the flu.

Employees (including privileged/credentialed professionals, residents, volunteers, students, contractors and vendors) who are not immunized by December 1 will be required to wear a procedural mask in the Region’s patient care locations, including hallways, lobbies and clients’ homes for staff who work in home and community care sites. The policy does not apply to locations such as administrative areas or private offices that are not generally accessed by patients, residents or clients.

Patient and employee safety is the Region’s top priority. Every year in Canada, an average of 12,200 influenza hospitalizations occur, and approximately 3,500 deaths are attributed to influenza. Read one mother’s heart-wrenching story about losing her healthy nine-year-old son to cardiac arrest caused by the B strain of the influenza virus.

The annual vaccine is the best protection against influenza and its complications. For more information on influenza and to find a drop-in clinic near you, visit www.4flu.ca. After December 1, the vaccine will be available by appointment only.

To date, over 60 per cent of Saskatoon Health Region employees, physicians and Saskatoon Cancer Agency staff have been immunized.