Skip to content

Sun Country prepares for flu season

Cooling temperatures have signaled the end of summer and beginning of, what is bound to be, a long winter season. As we well know by now, with winter comes flu season.

Cooling temperatures have signaled the end of summer and beginning of, what is bound to be, a long winter season. As we well know by now, with winter comes flu season.

With the emergence of H1N1 last year, people have become increasingly aware of the reasons why having a flu shot is one way to stay healthy through the cold season. Last year's H1N1 scare undoubtedly caused many issues for health regions as well as those looking to obtain a flu shot. The roll-out schedule of vaccinations was plagued with anger and frustration over who would be able to receive their shots first.

This year Sun Country Health Region isn't wasting any time. The region is planning to begin its roll-out of vaccinations on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

"The influenza vaccine will be available, free of charge this year, to any individual who wants to receive it. In SCHR, people can be immunized at local public health clinics and in some physician offices," says Janice Giroux, Vice President of Community Health for SCHR.

Sun Country will post the dates and locations of immunization clinics on its web site at and on the SCHR blog at Dates and locations will also be broadcast on the Access Cable TV channel.

An influenza shot is strongly recommended for all special risk groups. Residents who belong to any of these risk groups are advised to receive an influenza shot:

Adults 65 years of age and older*

People with chronic health conditions*

People with severe obesity*

Pregnant women*

Residents of nursing homes or other care facilities*

Members of a household expecting a newborn before March 2011

Children from 6 months of age to under 5 years of age

Household members and people in close contact with infants under 6 months of age

Child care and day care workers who provide care to children aged 6 months to under 5 years of age

Health care workers, health care students or health care volunteers

People who work with poultry or hogs

"People who are a household member or in close contact to people in some of these risk groups (the ones marked with *) should also receive immunization," says Giroux. "Not only will they protect themselves they also protect their family member by being immunized."

H1N1 is expected to rear its ugly head again this flu season therefore, those in at-risk groups especially need to ensure they receive their flu shot.

"H1N1 is expected to circulate again this year but we are expecting to see other types of influenza like we do during more typical influenza seasons. This year's seasonal influenza vaccine includes protection against H1N1 and two other strains of influenza," says Dr. Shauna Hudson, Medical Health Officer for SCHR.

The region's primary goal this flu season is to protect the people who are most at-risk for complications from influenza. SCHR wants to protect those most at risk by recommending they be immunized as one of the first priorities.

To further protect those most at-risk, the region is offering immunization to their household and close contacts so their family members don't get influenza and then spread it to them.

"It's been shown that the seasonal influenza vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent getting seasonal influenza," explains Giroux. "The effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on several factors, including the similarity of the vaccine to the circulating virus strains. With a good match the influenza vaccine can provide 70-90 per cent protection in healthy individuals."

Giroux reminds people it is important to receive a flu shot each year as the viruses that cause influenza are continually changing. This ensures the body forms the antibodies needed to fight the new viruses which develop each year.

"You also need to remember the simple but effective ways of preventing influenza, like good hand washing techniques and cough etiquette to keep from spreading influenza to your friends and family," says Giroux.

Dr. Hudson reminds people to think twice about visiting our long term care residents when they have a cold or influenza.

"People can decrease the risk of spreading influenza and other respiratory infections by not visiting long term care residents when they have influenza symptoms," she says.