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October 6, 2009
For immediate release

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Now Available for Those over 65


Doctors’ offices, Family Health Centres and long-term care facilities on Prince Edward Island have received their first shipment of seasonal influenza vaccine. Starting this week, the vaccine will be available to those who are 65 years and older and residents in long-term care facilities.

“Our decision to provide the seasonal influenza vaccine first to those over 65 and in long-term care facilities is based on the scientific evidence available to us and is in the best interest of the health of all Islanders,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, chief health officer for the Department of Health. “Evidence has shown this group is at a low risk for getting the H1N1 Flu Virus, but at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill with seasonal influenza, which is still likely to arrive at some point this flu season.”

As announced last week, this year’s immunization program will be a phased-in approach.

The program will focus first on providing the regular seasonal influenza vaccination to those at highest risk for seasonal influenza and will be followed closely by the H1N1 vaccine. After the H1N1 vaccine has been offered to all Islanders, it is anticipated that the seasonal influenza vaccine will be offered to the remaining high risk groups and others who wish to receive it.

“Delivering the vaccine campaign this way allows us to offer the best protection to Islanders most at risk from seasonal influenza, while still ensuring that everyone who wants and needs the H1N1 vaccine will be able to receive it as soon as it’s available,” said Dr. Morrison. “This year, the predominant strain of influenza will likely be the H1N1 Flu Virus,” said Dr. Morrison. “While those people who are 65 and older and those who live in long-term care facilities should continue to receive the seasonal influenza shot as usual this year, for the rest of the population, the flu virus they need to protect themselves against early in this influenza season is the H1N1 Flu Virus.”

As in past years, the Department of Health has provided the vaccine free of charge. However, there will be a fee to cover the cost of administering the vaccine in doctors’ offices and Family Health Centres. Family Health Centres across the province will provide the vaccine by appointment to those without a family physician. Announcements will be made in the near future regarding dates and times of clinics. The public is advised to watch the newspapers for further information.

One of the simplest steps Islanders can take to limit the spread of both H1N1 and seasonal influenza is good hand washing with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Islanders are reminded to cough and sneeze into their arm or sleeve and stay at home if they are sick.

Media Contact: Laura Steeves
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