Flu shot numbers drop across the Cypress Health Region

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Cypress Health Region officials are concerned a drop in flu shot numbers could lead to a larger impact on the population when flu season is in full swing.

With a growing number of lab confirmed influenza cases across Saskatchewan, Cypress Health Region Chief Executive Officer Beth Vachon is still urging people to get their flu shots.

In a report at the December 14 Cypress Regional Health Authority meeting, she pointed out their 2016 flu shot campaign had a lower response that the previous two years. The Health

Region’s five week long flu shot campaign, conducted by public health nurses and physicians, attracted 9,499 individuals. That total is down from the 10,685 receiving flu shots last year, and a significant drop from 13,176 back in 2014.

“Numbers were definitely down, which is always disappointing. We know that immunization is the best way to prevent illness,” Vachon said.

She noted that the public health flu shot campaign does not take into account individuals accessing a flu shot via a pharmacy, so she is hoping that gap can be accounted for through those other available sources. Vachon commented that this year’s flu strain seems to be impacting primarily older individuals the hardest.

“That’s the group that seems to be most harshly effected by the strains that are going around.”

Fortunately, this year’s flu shot appears to be providing the proper protection for the flu strains that are currently circulating.

“Getting your flu shot will actually help to prevent either getting it or will minimize the symptoms if you do get it.”

“We’re just strongly encouraging people that this is the best prevention. And then wash your hands.”

Vachon also reported a drop in regional healthcare workers receiving their flu shot, with only 58 per cent of the region’s staff receiving an immunization. For the 2014-2015 flu season the Cypress Health Region had a mask or immunize policy which resulted in close to 80 per cent of healthcare staff getting their flu shot that year. That initiative ended when arbitration rulings in Ontario and British Columbia found that as a mandatory policy was unreasonable.

The full impact of the Flu season is anticipated to arrive during the final days of 2016 and into early 2017. There are two final drop-in immunization clinics in 2016 at the Public Health office in the EI Wood Building (fourth floor). Flu shots are available on both December 23 and December 30 (8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.).

Flu shots can also be accessed in the new year during scheduled clinics on January 13 and 27, February 10 and 24, plus March 10 and 24.