Saskatchewan starts restricting who gets flu shots

Due to flu vaccine shortages, the Saskatchewan government is no longer giving out the shot to everyone who asks.

1 more flu-related death announced, bringing total to 7


  • Regina Qu'Appelle Health Regiona to hold "by appointment only" flu clinic

Due to flu vaccine shortages, the Saskatchewan government is no longer giving out the shot to everyone who asks.

Health officials said today that from now on they will focus on vaccinating children under five years old and pregnant mothers.

Saskatoon Flu Clinic will follow new protocol

Officials from the Saskatoon Health Region confirmed that a flu clinic set for Saturday at Saskatoon City Hospital will only administer shots to children between six months and five years of age, and pregnant women.

The clinic is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Seven people in Saskatchewan have died after contracting the flu and hundreds have tested positive for the virus. The death toll was six until Friday, when the seventh case was announced.

A flu vaccine doesn't provide complete protection, but it's considered an effective way to protect against the virus.

About 25 per cent of the population has received the shots since last fall.

High demand has depleted most of the province's 280,000 vaccine doses.  In recent day, some clinics have run out while others saw long lineups outside.

The province says it hopes to get a fresh supply of shots within days.

Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region plans 'By Appointment Only' flu clinic

On Friday night, officials from the Regina Qu'Appelle said a flu clinic would take place Sunday, with shots to be given to those who fit the criteria (between six months and five years of age, and pregnant women). Appointments are required.

To book an appointment, call 306-766-7878 beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. The line will remain open until all slots are filled.

The flu clinic will be held in Regina, although the official release did not identity a specific location.

Dr. Denise Werker, deputy chief medical health officer, said Friday that mass flu clinics planned across the province for next week will not go ahead.

"Unfortunately, because the global supply of vaccine is limited, we now have to change our approach in terms of focusing whatever vaccine we're going to get next week to those persons who are most at risk," Werker said.

"This has been a very difficult decision to make."

Werker stressed that it is still a relatively normal flu year.

"The number of diagnosed cases, laboratory confirmed cases, is not unusual. We know that we're on a steep part of the curve. We have not yet peaked and we'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks."

A shipment expected next week includes a nasal spray influenza vaccine. It's licensed for use in Canada for people from two to 59 years of age.

More supplies identified

Later on Friday, federal officials said they had found an additional half-million flu shots the national government could purchase to try to meet the late-season demand for the product.

But the deputy head of the Public Health Agency of Canada cautioned the country could still run out of vaccine, if demand in Central and Eastern Canada spikes in the way it has in parts of the West.

Dr. Gregory Taylor said an extra 245,800 doses are being purchased from the suppliers who contract with the federal government to provide vaccine each season.

Their contracts stipulate the manufacturers must hold aside an additional five per cent on top of their total order, in case Canada needs to buy more vaccine. Canada is exercising that option.

Taylor says the country is also exploring the possibility of purchasing another 360,000 doses that were made for other customers but not purchased by them. But he says a decision on whether it will be bought — or needed — hasn't been made yet.

In addition to Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories have indicated they may run out of flu vaccine.

With files from The Canadian Press


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