Influenza Immunization in Saskatchewan

Who can receive the influenza (flu) vaccine?

People who are six months of age and older.

Is the vaccine free for everyone and where can I get it?

The publicly funded flu vaccine is available to those eligible (people six months of age and older), who want to receive it. The free vaccine will be available through public health clinics across the province, and some physician and Nurse Practitioner offices.

People who receive the flu shot elsewhere will have to pay for it.

Are certain people more at risk than others of getting influenza?

Everyone is at risk of getting influenza. However, individuals in certain groups are at higher risk of complications and hospitalization if they get influenza.

Vaccination is recommended to those six months and older but is particularly important for people in the high risk groups.

What are the risk groups?

The following groups are at high risk of serious complications from influenza:

  • children under five;
  • pregnant women;
  • adults 65 and older;
  • nursing home residents;
  • people with a chronic health condition; and
  • caregivers and contacts of people at high risk.

When will the flu clinics be open?

Flu clinics will mostly run into late November. The flu vaccine will continue to be available throughout the flu season (until March 31, 2015), in various locations, by appointment. Check your health region website or call your public health office for details.

What are the influenza viral strains in this year’s publicly funded vaccines?

The vaccines used this year contain two influenza A viral components (H1N1 and H3N2) and one influenza B viral component, which have been identified by the World Health Organization as most likely to circulate in 2014-15.

Will the nasal spray vaccine be available again this year?

We expect to be able to offer the nasal spray influenza vaccine (FluMist) again this year, in addition to the injectable vaccine. FluMist is recommended for children between the ages of two and 17, and is expected to be available in health regions by the week of October 20th.

Is the nasal spray vaccine just as effective as the injectable vaccine?

Either vaccine is effective. The nasal spray is more effective in children two to 17 years of age. Generally, the injectable vaccine is more effective in adults and is recommended for them.

Either vaccine is effective. The nasal spray is more effective in children two to 17 years of age. Generally, the injectable vaccine is more effective in adults and is recommended for them?

Antivirals are available by prescription for early treatment of influenza, if required. The Ministry of Health does not reimburse for purchased antivirals.

Two antivirals - Tamiflu and Relenza - are listed on the provincial drug formulary every flu season for people over 65 years of age and those who qualify for financial assistance.

I’m not sure I should get the vaccine this year. How safe and effective is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is a safe way to protect yourself and those close to you during the flu season. Its effectiveness depends on the match between the vaccine strains and the influenza strains circulating in the community, and the age and the immune response of the person being immunized. It is more effective in people who are younger and otherwise healthy, such as children and adults. It may be less effective in older people. If a person gets influenza after getting immunized, they usually have a milder illness and are less likely to require hospitalization.

Are there any other ways to protect myself against influenza besides getting the vaccine?

You can protect yourself through frequent handwashing, coughing and sneezing into your sleeve, cleaning surfaces often, and staying home when you are sick. For more information about influenza, its symptoms, prevention and treatment, visit saskatchewan.ca or HealthLine Online. You can also contact the public health clinic in your area or call HealthLine 811.

How effective is the influenza vaccine?

The effectiveness of the vaccine can vary from 60 to 85 per cent. It is more effective in people who are younger and otherwise healthy, such as children and adults, but may be less effective in older people. However, if a person gets influenza after influenza vaccination, it is usually a milder illness and less likely to require hospitalization.

Are there any other ways to protect myself against influenza besides the vaccine?

You can protect yourself against seasonal influenza by adopting infection prevention methods such as frequent handwashing, coughing and sneezing into your sleeve, cleaning surfaces often and staying at home when sick.