Ministry Of Health Influenza Vaccine Advisory

October 19, 2015

The Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment issued an advisory about seasonal influenza [flu] vaccine service, which follows in full below.

The Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment is advising the public that commencing October 20, 2015 the seasonal influenza [flu] vaccine will be available to the public from the Department of Health at a cost of $10.00 per shot [both adults and children].

People over the age of 65 years will receive the seasonal flu vaccine free of charge. The flu vaccine will be available at the Health Centres, and at the offices of most private physicians.

The Department of Health will also be offering influenza immunization in the community through the “Flu Express.” The “Flu Express” will enable people to drive to a designated site and receive the flu vaccine while waiting in their car, without having to get out. This will make it easier for some people to access the vaccine.

Who should attend the “Flu Express”:

  • Persons aged 65 years and older
  • Healthy adults who are in close contact with the elderly, infants and children, and any persons with chronic medical conditions
  • Children aged 10 years and older
  • Healthcare workers and caregivers
  • Persons that have received the flu shot each year
  • Persons with chronic health problems that are at risk of complications from the flu, e.g. diabetics, asthmatics and those with heart disease.  They should inform their doctor when they have been vaccinated.

Flu injections will only be offered at the “Flu Express” on the specified dates, to individuals in good health without active infections.

You will not be given the shot if:

  • You have allergies to eggs, chicken products, or any component of the vaccine
  • You have had a reaction to the flu shot before
  • You have a fever
  • You have had convulsions, in the last 12 months

Please dress comfortably to allow the nurse easy access to the injection site in the upper arm.

Please have the correct amount of cash ready during your attendance at the “Flu Express.” [Credit/Debit card facilities will not be available at the “Flu Express” sites].

General Benefits of Flu Vaccination:

  • Decreased absenteeism from work or school
  • Increased wellness in your steps to maintaining your optimum health
  • Increased quality of life for our community, especially the seniors, infants and children and persons at risk of complications from the flu
  • Decreased chance of contracting influenza [especially during pregnancy]
  • Increased protection against influenza during travel abroad

In protecting yourself against influenza, you are also protecting your family, your household, your workplace and ultimately your community.

health centre schedule

flue express schedule

About Influenza:

Influenza or ‘flu’ is a highly contagious infection caused by the influenza virus. It is generally spread from person-to-person by coughs and sneezes from an infected individual. In the USA, 20-30 thousand, mostly elderly people, die each year from complications of flu. There were no deaths attributed locally to influenza.

Outbreaks of flu are most common in the winter and occur each year, peaking in the months of January & February in the northern hemisphere and in July & August in the southern hemisphere. These annual outbreaks are due to minor changes, [‘viral shifts]’ in the virus, which enable them to evade the immunity that individuals developed following a previous infection or a flu vaccination. Having an annual flu injection provides a high level of immunity to the anticipated circulating strains of flu virus. Individuals who have had flu before or been immunized previously will only have partial immunity to this season’s flu. They are vulnerable, but may have less severe symptoms.

Flu Symptoms

Symptoms of flu develop two to four days after exposure. Typically, persons experience a sudden onset of sore throat, and runny nose with high fever, headache, backache, muscle pains fatigue and general malaise. Although it is unpleasant and debilitating, most people recover after a few days. Extra fluids, bed rest and aspirin or acetaminophen are all that are needed. [Aspirin is not indicated for children with flu-like symptoms because it may cause serious complications e.g. Reyes syndrome].

In some people, flu infection can be quite serious because it may increase their risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia. The very young [especially infants under 6 months of age], the frail elderly, pregnant women, and people with other medical conditions are those most likely to develop complications. If cough, high fever, or marked sickness persists beyond a few days, especially in these groups, a physician should be consulted.

Flu Prevention

  • The chance of contracting flu and other upper respiratory infections can be reduced by frequent hand-washing, by ‘covering’ coughs and sneezes, disposing of soiled tissues and avoiding crowded places.
  • The flu vaccine is a safe and highly effective method of preventing most cases of flu. Side effects are rare and usually mild.
  • The currently available flu vaccine has been designed to provide protection against the most likely circulating strains of influenza virus for the 2015/16 flu season. This vaccine contains [3] strains. It is an ‘inactivated’ vaccine, that is, it contains killed viruses and therefore cannot cause flu. It is administered by injection and is safe for persons aged 6 months and older.

Influenza vaccine is recommended for all persons over the age of 6 months. Children aged 6 months to 9 years require two shots, administered 4 weeks apart, if they are being vaccinated for the first time against influenza.

Priority groups include: i] adults in contact with children, ii] the elderly, iii] persons with chronic medical conditions, iv] pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, v] healthcare workers and caregivers and v] persons aged 6 months and older with chronic medical conditions including diabetes, heart or lung conditions, asthma, sickle cell anaemia and immune system diseases.

Individuals under their physician’s care for chronic medical conditions and children under the age of three years are asked to obtain a prescription for their flu immunization from their private physician.

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