Both provincial governments are calling on all residents to get a flu shot this year.
Saskatchewan and Alberta Health opened up flu shot availability on October 19th. Flu shots are open to everyone over the age of six months old in both provinces.
While both governments are encouraging all residents to get the flu shot, they are also strongly recommending people in vulnerable groups get it. This can include seniors, people with underlying chronic health conditions, children under five, and pregnant women, who makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from influenza.
In Saskatchewan, people will be able to get flu shots at scheduled clinics, which will be operating with increased distancing and sanitation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flu shots will be available to residents at pharmacists, physicians, local public health offices and flu clinics, and people can find where they can get the shot by using the Saskatchewan 4Flu website.
“Getting a flu shot provides double protection—for yourself and also for those close to you,” Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. “It is a vaccine that is freely available, proven to be safe, and is particularly important this year during flu season as part of our ongoing efforts to mitigate the additional challenges to our provincial health care system from COVID-19. We encourage everyone to do their part to help keep Saskatchewan’s communities as healthy as possible.”
In Alberta, free of charge flu shots are at pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province. Alberta Health Services is also offering immunizations by appointment for those under five years old and those in their household this year.
A high-dose influenza vaccine is also being directly offered to residents who are 65 years and older in provincially funded long-term care facilities.
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Deena Hinshaw also reiterated the point of getting the flu vaccine, especially in the time of COVID-19.
“The flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others. While getting immunized helps, it’s also crucial to wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick. If you have flu symptoms, book a test for COVID-19 as symptoms are similar. Let’s all do our part to keep one another safe.”
In response to demand, Alberta has shipped in 1.9 million doses of the vaccine. Saskatchewan also announced they would be getting extra doses in September.