With flu season upon us here in West Central Saskatchewan, the time has come to start thinking about getting immunized for influenza. 

"We are going into flu season," said Dr. David Torr, Consulting Medical Heath Officer for the Heartland Health Region. "flu can be a severe illness, it's not like your everyday common cold and it can carry quite severe complications."

Washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth when you cough are practices, but nothing quite does the trick like immunizations. 

This year we'll see a vaccine with 4 components, instead of the usual 3. 

"In years gone by we used to have 3 components," Dr. Torr said. "but now we have a vaccine which covers a wider spectrum. 2 types of (influenza) A and two types of (influenza) B, both of which do circulate in our health region and province. So that is really good as a vaccine."

Certain individuals are more susceptible to contracting the virus, such as children, elders and those with predisposing medical conditions, especially respiratory. These individuals are also in more danger of complications arising due to influenza.  

Local residents will be given the chance to be immunized against the flu at clinics beginning next week all across the region.

Starting in late October, local health nurses can provide flu shots at clinics that are free of charge. They will also be available at many pharmacies to create a more flexible offering to the public.

Dinsmore will be holding the first clinic on October 24th at the senior centre from 10:00am - 1:00pm. Rosetown will be holding four clinics at the seniors centre with the first one scheduled for October 25th running from 1:00pm - 7:00pm. The other three clinics are scheduled for November 1st, 8th and 22nd.

Other towns that are hosting clinics include Harris, Elrose, Plenty, Milden and Dodsland.

Flu shots help reduce risks of influenza dramatically and are recommended to help increase odds at battling serious illnesses.

"It's a safe vaccine," Dr. Torr said. "and we really encourage everybody to get it, because influenza is not a good illness to go through."