Sask. health officials not worried about possible flu vaccination delay
There could be a delay in receiving flu vaccinations for some provinces, but, Saskatchewan health officials say they aren't worried yet.
"It’s a bit early for us to be given any more specifics,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer for Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health. “We always realize that, whatever dates our set, like mid-October, it’s always subject to vaccine availability.”
Novartis Canada, one of the pharmaceutical companies which the federal government works with to purchase vaccines for the provinces, has informed provinces that there could be a delay.
“We have a very transparent relationship with them,” Andrea Gilpin, director of corporate communications for Novartis Canada.
Flu vaccine delays are a common occurrence because of the nature of the business, she said.
“You have to remember, vaccines it’s not like aspirin, where it’s the same formula every year. Vaccines have to be changed almost every year for the strain that is being predicted for the season, so it is typical to have delays for the front end of the season.”
That being said, the Saskatchewan government is looking at contingency plans, including if the other companies they get vaccines from are also facing possible delays.
“We are having some planning meetings nationally with other provinces and the federal government to see what actually what that delay means in terms of the details and in terms of other contingencies,” Shahab said.
“I think over the next two weeks we’ll have a clearer picture.”
Saskatchewan Ministry of Health has contacted the health regions however, to advise them of the possible delay and prevent them from finalizing advertising on the immunization clinic dates.
Once they have more information they will know if they can go ahead with the current plan or if they have to delay it by one, two or three weeks, Shahab said.
Even if there is a delay of a couple of weeks, it shouldn’t affect public health programs because the flu season is starting later in the province, because of warmer falls and milder winters, he said.
The dry cold of Saskatchewan winters cause dry nasal passages and people crowd into buildings, which make ideal conditions for the influenza virus.
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