More Sask people now eligible for flu vaccine
Saskatchewan has received 107,000 doses of the FluMist vaccine, opening up access to flu immunization for all age groups in the province.
The FluMist will be available starting on Wednesday. The spray was received from Kentucky and has already been divided between Saskatchewan's regional health authorities to be distributed.
"FluMist is authorized for use in Canada for ages two to 59," said Dr. Denise Werker, Saskatchewan's deputy chief medical health officer. "We also have some injectable vaccine left...approximately 10,000 injectible vaccines left in the province. So the injectible vaccine will be used for those people who can't get a FluMist. Those persons are women who are pregnant, children six to 23 months old, immune-compromised persons and persons over 60."
Those groups can't receive the nasal-spray vaccine because it contines the live H1N1 virus. More injectible vaccine is expected to arrive in Saskatchewan in early February.
The number of FluMist doses carry the potential to increase Saskatchewan's immunization rate by 10 per cent, an amount Dr. Werker would like to see. There is an indication that Saskatchewan may have finally passed the peak of the influenza season, though Dr. Werker warns it is still a bit too early to know for sure.
"We judge the peak by the number of laboratory specimens that come in and how many of those laboratory specimens are positive. So we have an indication that the total number of laboratory specimens has decreased and the positivity rate has just started to decrease as well."
Immunization rates have increased in Saskatchewan, Dr. Werker noted. In the age group of six months to up to two years old, immunzation increased from 24 per cent on December 31 to 36 per cent as of January 20. In the same time period, the age group of two to five years old saw an increase from 14 to 24 per cent.
Clinics across the province are being scheduled for those wanting to be vaccinated. The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region's will be by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 306-766-7878 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They will be held:
- Thursday, Jan. 23 beginning at 1 p.m. and extending into the evening
- Friday, Jan. 24 beginning at 9 a.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 25 beginning at 10 a.m.
Those in rural areas should call their local Public Health Office for vaccination information.