’Flu shot clinics busy so far

Having hosted ’flu shot clinics across the Rainy River and Kenora districts over the past two weeks, the Northwestern Health Unit’s influenza immunization campaign is off to a strong start.
Health unit staff administered about 350 vaccine doses at an open clinic at Robert Moore School here yesterday after having given 270 shots to students and staff at Fort High on Tuesday, said Cindy McKinnon, the public health nurse heading up this year’s ’flu shot campaign.
She noted this is in addition to the regular appointment-only clinics, which have been held at the local health unit office since last Wednesday.
All of these have been fully booked, with future ones already nearly so (these clinics also are being held at the health unit’s offices in Emo and Rainy River).
“The turnout has been just what we anticipated—busy but not overwhelming,” said McKinnon.
“It looks like they’ve been busy everywhere. Even in our small communities, like Mine Centre, we had a 100 people out,” McKinnon added. “And in Emo, I just spoke to the nurse out there [Friday] morning and she did 75 [Thursday].
“It’s steady all over.”
The health unit also is responsible for acting as a central vaccine depot for the Rainy River and Kenora districts, distributing it to hospitals, long-term care centres, correctional facilities, and clinics.
The health unit has distributed roughly 31,000 doses of the vaccine across the Kenora-Rainy River districts in the past month or so.
But McKinnon stressed there’s no risk of a vaccine shortage.
The three viral strains the vaccine contains this year are: A/New Caledonia, A/New York, and B/Jiangsu.
For a full schedule of locations, dates, and times of ’flu shot clinics, watch for ads in future editions of the Fort Frances Times and Daily Bulletin.
The health unit is targeting three groups of people with its ’flu shot campaign.
Parents and guardians of healthy children over the age of six months are encouraged to bring them out for vaccinations at the public immunization clinics, which will be running until Dec. 28, said McKinnon.
Like all children under nine years of age who have not received the ’flu vaccine in previous years, they will require two doses—with an interval of four weeks between shots.
In addition, people age 65 and over, and those under 65 with chronic medical problems, should be immunized as a priority. Those with medical problems are at higher risk of developing serious complications of influenza.
As well, health-care providers and volunteers in health-care institutions are most likely to transmit the virus to the high-risk population, so they also are considered to be a priority group for influenza immunizations.
The health unit is responsible for keeping track of coverage rates for staff at hospitals, as well as staff and residents at long-term care facilities.
Coverage rates from these facilities must be turned into the health unit by Dec. 1. These reports will reflect who has gotten their influenza vaccine as of Nov. 15.
McKinnon noted the health unit staff has 100 percent compliance.
All people over six months of age are eligible to receive the publicly-funded ’flu shot. Because ’flu viruses mutate each year, everyone is encouraged to get one on an annual basis, said McKinnon.
The only exceptions are people who’ve had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs or one of the other components in the vaccine, an adverse reaction to a previous ’flu shot, or who’ve been advised by their physicians to avoid getting one.
For more information or to book an appointment for a ’flu shot at the health unit’s office here, call 274-9827. People also can visit www.nwhu.on.ca
The Fort Frances Clinic, Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre, and Dr. C.M. Moorhouse’s practice also are holding ’flu shot clinics this season.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)

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