Sask. flu shot to cover 4 strains this season

The province is making the free injectable flu vaccine available through public health clinics across Saskatchewan.

Public health clinics, pharmacies able to administer the vaccine

The province is making the free injectable flu vaccine available through public health clinics across Saskatchewan. (CBC)

In 60 years, Mike Peter has never missed his annual flu shot.

The 77 year old Peter says it took one flu outbreak in 1957 to scare him straight.

"I was in a military college in Victoria where there were 120 of us in my class and 110 us ended up in hospital with a flu bug," said Peter. "I wasn't one of them, But it shook me up to watch all of my friends in that condition. So I've had a flu shot every year since."

Peter says he's never had "a bad situation" with flu.

He attributes that to genetics, but also to his regular flu vaccine.

Halloween Day marked the start of flu shot season in Saskatchewan, but there's nothing scary about the vaccine to Shane Clauson.

He and his one year old son Charlie both received a flu shot.

"We gotta make sure this little guy stays healthy," said Clauson. "He doesn't have the immunity of an older person so he needs a flu shot. He's never been sick and I think it's because he's been immunized."

All residents six months and older can get the injectable flu vaccine.

Across Saskatchewan, the vaccine contains two influenza A viral components (H1N1 and H3N2) and two influenza B viral components.

They've been identified by the World Health Organization as the most likely to circulate in 2016-2017.

"The best research is done about what is circulating in South America and then we try to match it with the right vaccine," said Morag Granger, Clinical Services Manager with the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

"It's pretty much the right vaccine every year but on occasion there's a mismatch. That's why there are four strains in the vaccine to cover off the different types of flu that could be circulating."

Despite plenty of promotion, Granger says only about one quarter of those eligible for a flu shot, get one.

Designer wants flu shots to be "fashionable"

Fashion designer Dean Renwick rolls up his sleeve for a flu shot. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)
To help spread the word, and not the flu, one of the province's leading fashion designers, Dean Renwick, rolled up his sleeves at a Regina flu clinic.

"Throughout my day, I bring a lot of people into my studio and I'm constantly shaking hands and hugging people, " said Renwick. "I'm very touchy feely, so with a flu shot I keep everybody safe and sound. And I keep myself safe. This year, I 'm trying to make the flu shot fashionable."

Aside from clinics, flu shots are available at select pharmacies and at some physician and Nurse Practioner offices.

Flu clinics run until December 19th.

As for Dean Renwick's best efforts, Mike Peter says in his world, flu shots have always been in vogue.

"For the five or ten minutes I'm here, if this prevents me from ending up sick in the hospital at my age, it's worth it," said Peter. 'I didn't even feel the needle go in this time"

Find out when a flu clinic is happening near you from your health region's website: