October 5, 2009

Winnipeg Health Region Holding Targeted Seasonal Influenza Immunization Clinics for Those Most at Risk for Complications

Residents of Personal Care Home and other Long Term Care Facilities
will continue to get their vaccine at their residence

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced today it is modifying its plans for its annual seasonal influenza program by focusing on those most at risk for complications from seasonal influenza as identified by Manitoba's Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. They are:

  • Individuals 65 years of age and over,

  • Individuals who live in personal care homes and other long term care facilities,

  • Others at greater risk from seasonal flu and would be expected to benefit the most:

    • Children 6 months to 23 months of age,

    • Individuals of any age with risk conditions for complications from seasonal influenza as per the 2008-2009 National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations.

In order to immunize as many of these eligible individuals as quickly as possible, the Region is going ahead with plans to hold a series of clinics throughout the city over three days in October. Residents of personal care homes or other long term care facilities will be able to get their shot from a nurse in their residence as usual.

The region has also developed a plan to ensure eligible Winnipeggers who want to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza are able to access the vaccine by:

  • Working with different community groups and agencies to make appropriate arrangements for residents with specialized needs to get to one of the region's clinics;

  • Organizing smaller, in-house clinics at a few specific seniors' residences where, because of unusual circumstances, the residents would otherwise not be able to access the vaccine; and

  • Where necessary, arranging transportation for large groups who otherwise would experience difficultly getting to one of the region's clinics.

"We felt this was the best way to respond to the direction we have received from the province and immunize as many eligible Winnipeggers as quickly as possible," Dr. Sande Harlos, a WRHA Medical Officer of Health, said.

Dr. Harlos noted that when the region first announced its plans, it stressed that one of the most important components of any pandemic strategy is the ability to be flexible. "To serve our community best, we need to be able to adapt and modify our plans to ensure they are in line with the most current information available," she said.

"We recognize that change naturally causes some amount of concern and confusion for the public and staff. We hope that people can be patient and recognize that change is a normal part of planning the best services we can for Winnipeggers under rapidly changing circumstances."

The seasonal influenza vaccination clinics are still being held at locations throughout the city. The clinics (schedule attached) will be held in the same 12 location and will be open 12 hours (from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.) on October 14, 15 and 16. Clinics for the H1N1 influenza vaccine will be scheduled and publicly announced once the region knows when that vaccine will be available. It is expected that the seasonal flu shot will also be recommended for other eligible Manitobans following or during the H1N1 campaign.

Dr. Harlos stressed that in addition to the targeted clinics, the region has planned additional strategies to ensure that the immunization needs of those needing special consideration are addressed. Information and updates about influenza immunization clinics are available here. Anyone with any questions should call HealthLinks - Info Sante at 788-8200.

Related Links

Seasonal Influenza Immunization Clinic Locations

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