Saskatoon - Saskatoon Health Region is experiencing a slight increase in the number of confirmed influenza cases, and with additional cases likely to emerge, the Region is encouraging anyone who has not yet received a seasonal influenza vaccine to get immunized.
“This hasn’t been a typical influenza season, and we are just now beginning to see an upswing in confirmed influenza cases that could last well into March,” says Dr. Simon Kapaj, Saskatoon Health Region Deputy Medical Health Officer. “Of particular concern are the health risks that seasonal influenza poses to our most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems or other chronic health conditions, and their caregivers. Vaccination is the safest and most effective way for anyone to protect themselves and their loved ones against influenza.”
Influenza is a common respiratory infection caused primarily by influenza A and B viruses. This year’s dominant strain is H1N1, which is included in this year’s vaccine. This strain tends to affect adults, children and infants more severely than H3N2, which is usually more severe for the elderly.
Influenza is highly contagious and can spread from person to person through aerosol droplets (coughs and sneezes) or contact with respiratory secretions. Symptoms of influenza typically include the sudden onset of high fever, chills, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. Other common symptoms include headache, poor appetite, fatigue and runny nose. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are not as likely, but may occur, especially in children. Most healthy people will recover within a week or ten days.
It is estimated that peak influenza activity will occur in the third or fourth week of February. Although vaccination against influenza in the fall months prior to peak influenza season is optimal, the vaccine may still be administered up to the end of the season around March 31, 2016.
The influenza vaccine is still available within the Region and individuals who want to be immunized can:
- Call and ask their physician’s office for availability and an appointment.
- Visit a pharmacy (for people nine years of age and older). You may want to call ahead as some pharmacies no longer have the vaccine available.
- Call 306-655-4620 to book an appointment at a public health office. Please be advised that appointment availability may be limited. Also, please note that FluMist is no longer available.
Approximately 83,578 people in the Region have been immunized so far; 63,963 by Population and Public Health nurses and others, and 19,615 by pharmacists. A total of 63.04% of Region staff has been immunized to date.
For a list of physician offices and pharmacies offering the vaccine, visit www.4flu.ca.