Sask. would immunize all against swine flu
Health officials in Saskatchewan want everyone in the province to be immunized against swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus.
Health Minister Don McMorris said Wednesday that the public could expect a second wave of cases this fall and winter.
Saskatchewan wants to immunize "all who want or need the vaccine when it becomes available," according to materials provided at a news conference on provincial plans for dealing with the flu.
The province has set aside $33 million to cover the costs of the H1N1 vaccine, as well as masks and other items that may be needed during an outbreak.
That budget includes enough money for about 1.5 million doses of vaccine, which would be made available for Saskatchewan residents.
The Health Ministry said the province would follow national recommendations on who should receive "priority access" to the vaccine.
National vaccination priorities
Federal officials on Wednesday said the top groups were people under age 65 with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, children six months to five years old and people living in remote or isolated communities.
Also on the list were health-care workers and caregivers to people unable to get vaccinations.
Saskatchewan has also identified First Nations communities as an important part of its plan.
The province's deputy chief medical health officer said the second wave of the flu would likely arrive around November and would be similar to what was experienced earlier this year.
"Which is a lot of people getting mild illness," Dr. Saqib Shahab told reporters. "But a small minority needing antivirals or ICU care."
Officials said the H1N1 virus isn't expected to be any more severe than it has been.
In Saskatchewan, four people were reported as having died from swine flu, but all of them had serious underlying medical conditions.
Shahab said most people who get the virus will likely be sick for three or four days. If symptoms persist, they should see a doctor.
Otherwise, he advised people to simply stay in bed.
"If you have fever or cough or sore throat stay at home, " Shahab said. "Don't go out to buy your groceries. Have a flu buddy who can get your groceries and run errands for you."