With the number of influenza vaccines administered to date on pace with 2017, a medical health officer for the region hopes more people turn out.
According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), the North Battleford, Lloydminster and Meadow Lake region has seen around 7,800 doses administered as of Nov. 3. Across the province, nearly 157,000 shots have been handed out.
At this rate, Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu said by the end of the season, only around 29 per cent of the province will have been vaccinated.
“I would like to see more, definitely,” the medical health officer with the SHA based in North Battleford said.
Despite only sporadic outbreaks of influenza, Nsungu said the virus is quite unpredictable, making it difficult to anticipate what could occur down the road.
Additionally, he said it can be difficult to predict what strain will make the rounds, which can determine the severity and number of cases.
In past seasons, he said the virus began as one strain, but part way through, develop into another, as it undergoes what is known as a genetic drift, which is a small change to its makeup.
“This can result in a strain a little bit different from the previous one. Some vaccines do have cross-protection, as drifts are only minor tweaks [in genetics],” he said. “But the drift can result in a strain that may not be resistant to the vaccine, so it is extremely difficult to predict what will happen.”
The doctor cites this as an imperative reason to get vaccinated as it is the “best means of defence.”
While people can use proper cough etiquette or stay home if they feel ill or exhibit flu-like symptoms to help mitigate the spread of influenza, “You can take all those measures together and you compare them to the vaccination and [it] is still the most important measure when it comes to preventing influenza.”
Residents are encouraged to continue to attend immunization clinics, the dates and times of which can be found at www.4flu.ca or by visiting a local pharmacy.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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