It’s been a rough start to this year’s flu season. Measures taken to combat the spread of COVID over the last few years kept the seasonal strains of flu at bay. The provincial government sees mounting evidence that this year, the flu is showing a resurgence. 

In its November 10 Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP), the medical community is seeing a dramatic rise in case numbers, with 61 percent of reported cases in children and youth up to 19 years. Rising absentee rates reported by school divisions across the province reflects the challenges. It has the Chief Medical Health Officer reminding residents to keep their flu shots up to date. 

“With an increase of respiratory illnesses this fall, including influenza, all residents should get up-to-date with available vaccinations,” provincial Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. “In Saskatchewan, we are fortunate to have safe and effective vaccines for influenza and COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is not the flu and COVID-19 vaccines will not protect you from influenza. The best way to protect yourself and your family against influenza is to get the annual flu shot.”

As of November 10, 185,531 doses of influenza vaccine have been administered in Saskatchewan, representing approximately 15 percent of the population. 

All Saskatchewan residents six months of age and older are eligible to receive their flu shots at participating pharmacies, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) clinics and some physician and nurse practitioner offices. Flu shots are free of charge.

Children aged six months to five years can only be immunized at a SHA public flu clinic, public health office, or by a physician or nurse practitioner. Only select physician’s offices offer influenza and/or COVID-19 vaccines.

”A number of respiratory illnesses are currently putting pressure on Saskatchewan’s acute care system,” Shahab said.  “The best way to protect yourself against influenza is to be immunized layered with common sense measures like staying home when sick, washing your hands frequently, and choosing to wear a mask when you feel it appropriate.”

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