Sask. flu vaccine campaign being looked at as practice for possible COVID-19 vaccine rollout

·2 min read

This year's flu vaccine rollout will also be used as a lesson for how a possible COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered to the Saskatchewan public.

"It's an all-hands on deck approach," said Dr. Kevin Wasko, a physician executive with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

"We can trial a new way of doing things so when a COVID vaccine becomes available we can have a widespread response across the system."

The flu vaccine became available to the public on Monday. This year it is available at more than 550 locations across the province.

Vaccines will be made available at acute care centres, emergency departments, family physicians and in home care, as well as at traditional mass clinics and pharmacies.

"There might be some initiatives that we've tried that are new and different that work very well, while there may be others that didn't work so well and that we may not want to repeat when the COVID vaccine becomes available," Wasko said.

The province has put in its largest ever order (596,000 doses) of the flu vaccine.

More locations will hopefully translate into more people getting the vaccine, said Dr. Tanya Diener, the SHA's medical health officer in Regina.

"By increasing our influenza immunization coverage we can actually protect our population and thereby avoid what we call a twindemic (where large numbers of the population come down with influenza and COVID-19 at the same time)."

Diener said it is important for everyone to get the vaccine, but especially for young people, the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions.

Saskatchewan Health Authority
Saskatchewan Health Authority

Wasko said plans are in place for home-care providers and family physicians to deliver the flu vaccine.

SHA recommends calling ahead to see if you need an appointment. That applies whether you are going to your own doctor, walk-in clinics, pharmacies or mass clinic sites.

In Saskatoon the mass clinic site has been moved from Prairieland Park to SaskTel Centre and is by appointment only. About 30 of the private boxes at SaskTel Centre are being used for the vaccinations.

Bring a mask and your health card, and follow COVID-19 guidelines such as physical distancing and washing of hands.

Do not go to a clinic if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Clinics will run from Oct. 19 until Dec. 23, though the vaccine will still be available until the end of March.

Go to 4flu.ca to find an immunization clinic near you.