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Seasonal influenza vaccination begins for seniors

Seasonal influenza immunization clinics for adults aged 65 years of age and older will begin in Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) on Tuesday October 13. The seasonal influenza vaccine will protect seniors from the complications of seasonal influenza.

For a complete list of the locations and times click here. 

Saskatchewan's influenza vaccine campaign will focus first on those at highest risk for seasonal influenza:
• Seniors aged 65 years of age and older
• Residents of long-term care facilities.

This is not the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, which will become available later this fall.

"It's been shown that the seasonal influenza vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent getting seasonal influenza," says Janice Giroux, Vice President, Community Health, for SCHR.

The spread of influenza can be prevented by frequent hand washing and cough etiquette. People can also decrease their risk of spreading influenza by not visiting our long term care residents when they have a cold or influenza, she says.

Dr. Shauna Hudson, Medical Health Officer, for SCHR, says the effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on several factors, including the similarity of the vaccine component to the circulating virus strains.

The viruses that cause influenza are continually changing, so individuals at higher risk for the complications of influenza need a flu shot each year to make sure their body forms antibodies against the currently circulating influenza virus strains, she says.

"With a "good match" the vaccine can provide 70-90 per cent protection in healthy individuals."

"But even when there is an imperfect match, studies have shown the vaccine still reduced the over-all risk of influenza infection by 40-50 per cent and reduces hospitalizations for complications by 50 to 60 per cent," she says.

The dates and locations for the influenza clinics will be provided later this week and posted on the Sun Country Health Region website at Dates also will be available by calling Healthline at 1-877-800-0002.

A vaccine that prevents pneumococcal disease will also be available at this time for all seniors, to prevent influenza-related pneumonia.

SCHR enhanced the provision of pneumococcal vaccine in long-term care facilities and other program areas early this summer. Over 88 per cent of residents in SCHR long-term care facilities now are protected. Seniors who have not received their pneumococcal immunization are encouraged to do so.

Decisions about providing the seasonal influenza vaccine to those outside the high risk group of seniors will be determined at a later date.

Media: For more information, please call Joanne Helmer, Communications Coordinator, at 842-8353. Released October 8, 2009

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