PEI

P.E.I. getting ready for flu season with vaccine order

Last year influenza caused 123 hospitalizations, 12 admissions to the intensive care unit and nine deaths in the province. And when people were hospitalized on P.E.I. due to the flu, the average stay was eight days, says Dr. Heather Morrison.

'It is the single most effective way of lowering your risk of getting influenza’

The vaccine is available free of charge for Islanders and 60,200 doses have been ordered. (Robert Short/CBC)

Flu season is coming and P.E.I. is gearing up to fight it.

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer said it is always hard to know which strain of influenza is going to take hold on the Island.

"The influenza vaccine this year offers protection against four different strains of influenza viruses. These are the ones specified by the World Health Organization and there is two strains of Influenza A and Influenza B," she said, adding the first shipment of that vaccine is supposed to come to the province this week.

The vaccine is available free of charge for Islanders, Morrison said, and 60,200 doses have been ordered.

Clinics starting soon

Walk-in public health flu clinics will start on Oct. 15, according to a release from the province, and Morrison encourages people to get the shot.

'At this point we haven't had any indication there is influenza here on Prince Edward Island,' says Dr. Heather Morrison. (Shane Ross/CBC)

"It is the single most effective way of lowering your risk of getting influenza," Morrison said.

She said the vaccine also cuts down the risk of being hospitalized from the flu, adding it's not just beneficial to the person who gets the shot, but the people around them as well.

"It's a chance not only to lower your risk and protect yourself, but it is a chance of protecting your family and the people you care about and your community," she said.

People over 65, those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and children are at the highest risk of being hospitalized from the flu, Morrison said.

Flu season in North America hasn't quite started yet and "at this point we haven't had any indication there is influenza here on Prince Edward Island," Morrison said.

There has been a significant uptake in those getting vaccinated for the flu since the province started offering it for free. Morrison said that is also due, in part, to pharmacists being able to give vaccines.

In the release, the province provided tips for protecting against the flu in addition to getting the flu shot. Officials said people should clean their hands properly and often, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and contain germs by staying home if sick.

Those looking for the vaccine can get a shot at Health PEI public health nursing clinics, family physicians, nurse practitioners offices and some pharmacies.

Last year influenza caused 123 hospitalizations, 12 admissions to the intensive care unit and nine deaths in the province. And when people were hospitalized on P.E.I. due to the flu, the average stay was eight days, Morrison said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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