Sask. to offer free H1N1 vaccine
A Saskatchewan health official says once the swine flu vaccination is ready, citizens will have access to the vaccine at no charge.
But most Saskatchewan residents will still have to pay for the regular seasonal flu vaccine that comes out every autumn.
The province's deputy chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said Saskatchewan already pays to vaccinate people at high risk — young children, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems — against the usual seasonal flu outbreaks.
But swine flu is so new that people have not had the opportunity to build up immunity and because of that, the province will vaccinate as many people as possible against H1N1 swine flu, he said.
"For most people it continues to be mild illness, but it does cause more illness than the seasonal strain because it's a new strain and most people don't have a good amount of immunity to it," he said.
"That's why it's called a pandemic strain and that's why the recommendations are to give immunization more broadly — so that people get immune to this pandemic strain through immunization, and not through natural infection."
Alberta also announced this week that it would offer the H1N1 vaccine for free.
The federal government has said Canada will have enough H1N1 vaccine in place by late October to deal with any swine flu outbreak.