PEI

Free flu shot clinics open on P.E.I.

P.E.I. is once again offering free flu shots, starting Tuesday.

Vaccine 'the most effective thing we can try to do to protect ourselves'

Public Health Nursing is offering free shots at walk-in clinics across the Island, with no appointment necessary. (Tony Talbot/AP)

P.E.I. is once again offering free flu shots, starting Tuesday. 

This is the second year Public Health Nursing is offering the free shots at walk-in clinics across the Island, with no appointment necessary. 

"The World Health Organization really outlines a long time ahead of time what strains they predict will circulate," Chief Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. 

Hoping more get vaccinated

"So across the country the vaccine that's being carried has protection against two influenza-A strains as well as two influenza-B strains."

'It's always hard to predict exactly what the challenges will be with each influenza season,' says Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief health officer. (CBC)

To find clinic dates and times, go to Health PEI's website or call their toll-free number, 1-855-354-4358 (4FLU).

Last year's flu season was a bad one — two different strains of flu caused about a 50 per cent rise in the number of cases and people hospitalized compared to 2017. There were about 136 hospitalizations and six deaths. 

Vaccines have been distributed to pharmacies, doctor's offices, nurse practitioners and Public Health Nursing — 60,000 in all. That's about 5,000 more than last year,  and Morrison said she hopes more Islanders will take advantage of the free shots. 

'Hard to predict'

"It's always hard to predict exactly what the challenges will be with each influenza season," said Morrison. "But we do know that influenza vaccine, even if it's not 100 per cent effective, is the most effective thing we can try to do to protect ourselves."

Frequent hand washing, staying at home if you are sick, and coughing into your sleeve can also prevent the spread of flu germs, Morrison said. 

Islanders at higher risk of flu such as young children, seniors, health care workers, and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems are urged to get the flu shot.

They're not only at higher risk of getting and transmitting flu, but also suffering complications from the virus. 

P.E.I. usually begins to see flu cases in November with the season peaking at the end of December into January, Morrison said. 

With files from Louise Martin

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