Less than a quarter of people in Saskatchewan have gotten a flu shot this season, but there’s still time.
Flu activity has been very low so far in the province. In the past week, only five influenza cases were identified in Saskatchewan, which puts the province at a total of 31 since Sept. 1, 2015.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said this will change in the coming weeks.
“Compared to last year, it’s been very quiet but we do expect influenza to pick up over the next few weeks,” he said.
Normally January would be too late get the flu shot, but the late start to the flu season means people can still get the shot and it will be effective.
Shahab said about 270,000 doses of the vaccine were given out thus far this flu season. That’s a little over half of what was ordered for Saskatchewan, and only accounts for about 25 per cent of the province’s population.
This is the first year pharmacists have been able to give out the vaccine, and Shahab said there has been good uptake. About 60,000 shots were given by pharmacists.
The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate the vaccine given out for the 2014-2015 flu season was only 23 per cent effective. But Shahab said he believes this year’s vaccine will be more effective.
“This year most of the virus we’ve seen is the H1N1 strain, which actually is well protected by the vaccine, and we’re also seeing an H3N2 strain, which is also well matched by the vaccine.”
For those who don’t want to get the shot, Shahab suggested washing your hands often, coughing into your sleeve, and not going out if you’re sick.