Fewer people receiving flu shots

FEWER PEOPLE are getting flu shots at the Northern Health Authority's health unit here than in previous years.

Up to the end of December 2010, 2,582 people had received a shot, less than the 2,852 people inoculated as of the end of December 2008.

“So that's 270 fewer people,” said authority official Eryn Collins in noting that the figures track shots given since the start of the flu season which is the beginning of October. The season generally finishes the end of February.

Collins said the October 2009 to February 2010 flu season is not being used as a comparison simply because of the huge number of shots given because of the H1N1 situation in which huge numbers of people were inoculated.

“I should add that these numbers are just the shots that we provide. They don't include ones given at doctors' offices or elsewhere,” Collins added of the figures quoted.

To date, there have been no reports of major flu outbreaks in the region although there have been some cases of H1N1 on Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands).

Nationally, a strain of flu is making its presence felt in Manitoba and in Ontario.

This year's flu shot is meant to ward off three specific flu strains, including one that is an offshoot of H1N1.

Collins said there is no charge for flu shots provided by the health authority as a long as a person meets specific criteria.

Broadly speaking that criteria takes in young children from six months to 23 months, people over the age of 65, people who may be at high risk of the flu because of underlying medical conditions and people who are in contact with people who fit the aforementioned categories.

“We'll listen to people who have a legitimate reason,” said Collins.

She said people should call the local health unit for further information.

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