Sask. vaccine supply remains solid, spike in flu predicted next month

Southern Saskatchewan is seeing an outbreak of H1N1, with this season’s strain proving deadly.

Some pharmacies may not have vaccine available, so call ahead, says Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan

Flu clinics are no longer running, but people can still get shots at pharmacies, doctors' offices and public health offices. (Tony Talbot/AP)

Southern Saskatchewan is seeing an outbreak of H1N1, with this season's flu strain proving deadly.

Six people have died from the flu in Saskatchewan so far, with three of those victims being children less than six years old.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health says the province still has vaccination supplies and it's not too late for people to get a flu shot.

The peak of flu season has passed, but the season is expected to last another four to six weeks, with a potential spike in type B influenza predicted next month, according to the province's chief medical health officer.

Influenza B is less aggressive that influenza A (which includes H1N1), but can still be quite contagious, according to Dr. Saqib Shahab. 

Fortunately, there is still a fair of supply of vaccine in Saskatchewan communities, said Kristjana Gudmundson, acting director of professional practice for the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan.

At this point, people should be aware some pharmacies may have used up their inventory.

"The easiest way to find out where there is current stock out there is to call the different locations and see if you can book an appointment and get yourself in," said Gudmundson. 

It's important at this point in the season to keep an eye on vaccine supplies so that each community can continue to offer the shot, she said.

The message to get vaccinated seems to be sinking in, with more people taking advantage of flu shots at pharmacies every year, said Gudmundson.

Eight per cent more people have had the flu shot so far this season compared to this time last year, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Gudmundson said the severity of flu in any given year is influenced by several factors, including vaccination rates, people employing proper hand-washing, staying home when sick and the type of flu strains themselves.

The Ministry of Health said that people who want the flu vaccine can get in touch with their public health offices. These offices are the only place children under five can get their vaccinations, with that age group identified as one of the at-risk groups in this flu season. 

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