The Saskatchewan Health Authority launched its flu vaccination campaign for 2020-21 on Monday, under the shadow of a global pandemic.
The campaign is “truly going to be a campaign like no other because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Tania Diener, medical health officer in Regina with Saskatchewan Health Authority.
“And for us this year it is more important than ever for all of us, especially the young, the elderly, the pregnant women, those with underlying conditions and immuno suppressed, those are more at risk for serious disease to due to the virus with complications, as well as caregivers, to get the influenza vaccine.”
She said that by increasing their influenza immunization coverage they can protect their population and avoid “twin-demics” — referring to large numbers of the population with both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.
That would also keep health care resources available should a surge be seen in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Kevin Wasco added that it was a “campaign like no other” because “our system depends on it this year.”
“We can prevent the influenza side of it and we should, and it’s important to be immunized,” said Wasco. But as well, by utilizing an “all hands on deck” approach where every health care encounter is an opportunity to be immunized for influenza, “we can trial a new way to do things so when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available we can have a widespread response across the system.”
The difference this year, Wasco said, is the flu vaccine will be made available in more locations including in their acute care centres, their emergency departments, family physician clinics, through home care as well as the traditional mass-immunization clinics.
There will be more vaccine available, with 36.5 percent more flu vaccine ordered, and health officials say they don’t believe there will be a shortage. The vaccine order was the largest order ever, with the province having received 596,000 doses.
In the Battlefords, a walk-in clinic has been set up this year at the former Kramer Cat (Finning Canada) building, 391 Yellowhead Hwy, Battleford, running on select days between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.; it is running on Oct. 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, 31, and Nov. 2, 4, 7, 9, 13 and 14. Information can be found at https://www.saskhealthauthority.ca/Services-Locations/flu/Pages/Clinic-Locations.aspx .