Free flu vaccine available across province starting Oct. 22

Saskatchewan residents can get their free flu shot starting October 22 at public health clinics, local pharmacies, and some physician and Nurse Practitioner offices.

“Influenza can cause serious illness and may lead to complications, hospitalization and even death,” Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.  “Don’t wait.  Get your flu shot early in the season to protect yourself, your family and those to whom you provide care.”

Flu shots are recommended for those at higher risk, including seniors, people with underlying chronic health conditions, children under five, and pregnant women.  Seniors often have chronic health conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes and weaker immune systems, which makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from influenza.

Saskatchewan’s publicly-funded flu vaccination program offers the injectable vaccine, which provides protection against four different flu virus strains most likely to circulate this season.

This year the province is providing Fluzone® High Dose vaccine for long-term-care residents 65 and older.  This vaccine offers improved protection for seniors, especially the elderly.  Also, starting this year the role of pharmacists has been expanded to allow them to administer the free flu shot to residents five years and older, during home visits, and in congregate living settings.

Children under five and non-Saskatchewan residents can be vaccinated at a public health clinic.  To find out where and when to get a flu shot, call your public health office or HealthLine 811, or visit www.4flu.ca for a complete listing and schedule of public flu clinics.

For a list of pharmacies that provide the free flu shot, check the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan website at www.skpharmacists.ca/patients/flu-shots or ask your local pharmacy if they offer it.

More than 340 pharmacies will offer free flu vaccinations this season.  Information on influenza immunization in Saskatchewan is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/flu.