PEI

High-dose flu shots to be offered in P.E.I. long-term care facilities

High-dose flu shots are being offered to people in long-term and community care in P.E.I. for the first time this year.

Province purchased 2,200 doses of the Fluzone vaccine to cover patients living in long-term care

Fluzone has a higher immune response which is beneficial for some older people who don't always get the protection they need from the regular flu shot. (Tony Talbot/AP)

High-dose flu shots will be offered to people living in long-term and community-care facilities on P.E.I. for the first time, during this year's flu season.

Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, says the Fluzone vaccine has a higher immune response which is beneficial for some older people who don't always get the protection they need from the regular flu shot. It was approved for use by Health Canada in people 65-plus two years ago. 

Last year, Manitoba offered this vaccine to people in nursing care and this year, P.E.I. is one of four additional provinces offering the vaccine.

'This is a more expensive vaccine but it will hopefully make a difference in terms of limiting the number of outbreaks and protecting those patients in those long-term care facilities,' says Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Morrison said environments like long-term care facilities can put people at a higher risk of catching the flu and the high-dose vaccine will give people an added level of protection.

"When we look at our influenza season last year there were 18 respiratory outbreaks in long-term care and community-care facilities," Morrison said. "So we would like to make sure we provide the best possible protection for a very frail population."

Over 2,000 doses purchased

Morrison said the province has purchased 2,200 doses of the Fluzone vaccine to cover patients living in long-term or community-care facilities.  

"This is a more expensive vaccine but it will hopefully make a difference in terms of limiting the number of outbreaks and protecting those patients in those long-term care facilities," Morrison said. 

Last year Ontario allowed seniors 65 and up to buy the high-dose Fluzone shots at pharmacies and is now making those shots available to all seniors free of charge.

Morrison said she doesn't know if pharmacies will also be offering this product for people who still live at home. If pharmacies do offer it, she added, it would be available to anyone 65 or older, for a fee. 

The province will be monitoring the number of outbreaks over the upcoming flu season, Morrison added, to see what kind of impact the vaccine has among Islanders living in long-term care. 

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With files from Laura Chapin