Playing it safe: area residents combat flu season

With seven confirmed deaths in Saskatchewan due to the H1N1 virus, people were lined up Jan. 9 at the Meadow Lake Hospital to get their flu shot. Here, eight-year-old Zane Campbell anticipates the injection he’s about to receive from public health nurse Armande Ferland.

With seven confirmed deaths in Saskatchewan due to the H1N1 virus, people were lined up Jan. 9 at the Meadow Lake Hospital to get their flu shot. Here, eight-year-old Zane Campbell anticipates the injection he’s about to receive from public health nurse Armande Ferland.

by Derek Cornet

With a series of recent flu-related deaths reported throughout the province, Meadow Lake and area residents have been taking every precaution they can to stay healthy.

The Prairie North Regional Health Authority (PNRHA) continues to encourage people to get the flu shot – a request that doesn’t appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Many were at the Meadow Lake Hospital Jan. 9, rolling up their sleeves to receive the injection. Amy Nash brought her children with her to get flu shots and said, by doing so, they’d have less of a chance of getting the flu she heard has been making the rounds as of late.

“We haven’t had flu shots since H1N1 came around in 2009,” she said. “I also heard about the flu that’s been going around and I want to keep us safe.”

As of Jan. 10, there have been seven confirmed deaths because of the H1N1 virus in Saskatchewan. According to PNRHA chief medical officer Brenda Cholin, the Northwest is no less vulnerable than other areas and residents should consider getting the shot. Even though flu season typically ranges from November to early March, she said there’s still time to get one.

“If people couldn’t make it to the flu clinic, they could also call the local clinic to see if they can set one up for them,” Cholin said.

Another reason to get a flu shot annually is because the type of flu that infects people changes from year-to-year. Cholin said the World Health Organization predicts which flu will be most dominant that year, then they will direct companies to develop a vaccine. This season’s flu shot consists of flu strains H1N1, H3N2 and Influenza B, which Cholin noted were the most prominent this year.
Unlike clinics in Regina and Prince Albert where the vaccine had temporarily run out, Cholin said the local health region hasn’t experienced the surge like others have, adding the region will provide a shot for anyone who wants one.

Also last week, students at Lakeview Elementary School in Meadow Lake were learning about germs and how to stay clean during a special presentation held in the school gymnasium. Principal Dawn Paylor said, aside from the curriculum requiring teachers to educate their class about the spread of germs, teachers reinforce healthy habits in the hallways.

“I’m always asking students coming out of the bathroom if they’ve washed their hands and sometimes they’ll shake their head and go back,” she said. “We’re always reminding students about the importance of cleanliness.”

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