Annual vaccine program encourages Manitobans to get the shot, not the flu
All Manitobans are encouraged to get the shot, not the flu to protect themselves and the people they care for during the 2012 annual influenza immunization program. This announcement was made by Health Minister Theresa Oswald.
“When people get the shot they are protecting themselves as well as their friends and families who might be at an increased risk of serious illness. The flu shot is available at no charge to all Manitobans and can help people stay well during the flu season,” said Oswald.
People at increased risk include:
• seniors 65 years or older,
• residents of personal-care homes and long-term care facilities,
• children under five years of age,
• those with chronic illness,
• pregnant women,
• individuals of Aboriginal ancestry, and
• people who are severely overweight or obese.
People in close contact with individuals at increased risk for influenza-related complications, such as health-care workers, first responders and household contacts and caregivers, are also a focus for influenza immunization.
“Every year, thousands of Canadians, mostly seniors, die from complications relating to the flu,” said Arlene Wilgosh, president and chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “Contracting influenza is much more severe than just suffering through a bout of the common cold and immunization can help prevent influenza and reduce the risk of serious complications or even death.”
This flu shot provides protection against three of the most common strains of influenza the World Health Organization expects to circulate this season, Oswald said. The vaccine changes each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains will circulate, which is why it is important to get the flu shot every year, she added.
Influenza is generally spread by infected individuals sneezing and coughing, and direct physical contact. Symptoms may include fever and chills, cough, headaches, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat and exhaustion.
Manitobans can take precautions to avoid getting the flu including:
• covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or a sleeve, not hands, when coughing or sneezing;
• rinsing hands with warm running water and soap, and lathering all the surfaces of the hands and fingers, including nails, for 15 to 20 seconds; and
• using an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water is not available.
Manitobans aged 65 and older, anyone living in a personal-care home or long-term care facility, homeless individuals, illicit drug users and people with specific health conditions are also eligible to get a no-cost pneumococcal shot at the same time they get their flu shot, the minister said. This one-time immunization can prevent pneumonia, blood infection and meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
Manitobans can be immunized at QuickCare clinics, public health clinics, nursing stations, or by their primary health-care provider or physician throughout the province this fall. More information on specific clinic dates and locations is available from local public health offices, regional health authorities, the province’s seasonal flu website at www.manitoba.ca/flu and by calling Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free).