Health system considering new tricks to roll out an old vaccine


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Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone and the Ministry of Health could not say how many doses of the flu vaccine they have ordered or exactly how it will be distributed. Livingstone said some measures used in previous years, like immunizations in long-term care, will still happen.

He indicated the SHA is also preparing for a different kind of immunization campaign, including possibly leveraging resources deployed for COVID-19 to get the shot into as many arms as possible.

“We think there’s an opportunity with existing assessment sites and testing sites that have been geared up for COVID to help support that work, as well as the drive-thru testing sites in Saskatoon and Regina, which we found out very quickly was a preferred option for lots of residents,” Livingstone said. 

SASKATOON, SASK.: SEPTEMBER 12, 2020- Healthcare workers wait outside for patients at a drive-thru testing site for Covid-19 in Saskatoon, Saturday, September, 12, 2020. Kayle Neis/Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Healthcare workers wait outside for patients at a drive-thru testing site for Covid-19 in Saskatoon, Saturday, September, 12, 2020. Photo by Kayle Neis /Regina Leader-Post

Livingstone noted reports from the southern hemisphere point to a mild flu season, but combined with COVID-19 lockdown measures in those countries, guessing the severity is more complicated.

Neudorf said the big challenge is getting enough people to take the shot. The flu vaccine isn’t a perfect shield: it’s protective somewhere between 30 and 70 per cent of the time, which means a lot of people need to take it to stop the spread.

If we want to maintain this dance we’re doing with the pandemic in not having to resort to a big shutdown again … we’ll hopefully see a reduced flu season,” Neudorf said. 

Flu shot clinics are set to open on Oct. 19, according to the SHA’s website.

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