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October 25, 2004
For immediate release

Department of Health and Social Services, Medical Society and Lung Association Advise Flu Vaccine Now Available in Physicians' Offices and Health Centres Province Wide

Health and Social Services

Flu vaccine is now available across the province for anyone who wishes to protect themselves and their families, Chief Health Officer Dr. Lamont Sweet advised today. This year, the flu vaccine will contain two A and one B antigen strain.

“As we approach the winter months and spend more time indoors in closer contact with others, the flu tends to spread more quickly,” said Dr. Sweet. “Although we urge people at high risk to see their physician and receive the vaccine, all adults and young children between the ages of six and 23 months should consider vaccination.”

After vaccination, the body’s immune system produces antibodies which then prevent infection or reduce the likelihood of severe illness should infection occur. High risk individuals and groups include adults and children with lung disease, seniors, nursing home residents and staff, and anyone with a chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and HIV. This year, healthy younger children have been added to the list of people for whom the vaccine is recommended because of the high potential of hospital admission should they contract influenza.

Vicki Bryanton, Executive Director of the PEI Lung Association, noted another important segment of the population that should receive the vaccine. “Health care workers and those providing essential community services are in contact with a great number of people – including those at high risk. It is therefore extremely important that they be vaccinated to prevent transmission of the influenza virus.” For more information on the flu, visit the Lung Association’s Web site at

Charlottetown Pediatrician and Medical Society President, Dr. Kathryn Bigsby explained confusion often arises during flu season. “People will often think that a stomach illness is the flu,” noted Dr. Bigsby. “Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not influenza.” She described common flu symptoms such as sudden high fever, headache, loss of appetite, severe muscle aches and pain, extreme fatigue and weakness, chills, dry cough, sweating, and sometimes sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion and sneezing. Influenza can leave a person bedridden for five to 10 days and can even lead to pneumonia or bronchitis.

To receive the vaccine, contact your family physician. Health clinics will provide the vaccine for those without family physicians. There will be no charge for the flu vaccine, but doctors and clinics may charge a fee to offset their costs for administering the flu shots. Please bring your Personal Health Card to your flu shot appointment.

Media Contact: Sara Underwood
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