Flu-fighters armed with vaccines

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 14/97) - Residents seeking refuge from the dreaded flu bug this winter have been keeping nurses at the Yellowknife public health on their toes and armed with vaccines.

So far this winter, 1,040 doses of flu vaccine have been administered to patients.

"I get the sense we've done more this year," said Kate Hamilton, acting nurse-in-charge.

The reason why Hamilton does not know exactly how well things are going is because they never count the specific number of patients.

"We always get a pretty good response, but I think we got more this year," she said.

The biggest flu clinic held this year was at the fire hall on Oct. 15. The first time such a central clinic was held.

Some 275 people lined up to get their $10 shot at the hall.

Two nurses were set up there, but by late afternoon, two additional nurses were called in to keep up with demand.

"I think it was worth doing. It was really good," Hamilton said.

Two other flu clinics were held since the fire hall clinic, one full-day and another half-day.

The unit has also been accepting patients on Mondays at the Professional Building in the downtown. Nurses have also been doing home visits to see people who are not able to get downtown.

Hamilton said even though the flu season is upon us, the three flu strands -- the Johannesburg flu, the Nanchang flu and the Harbin flu -- which are expected to hit the North have yet to surface.

People such as RCMP, nurses, doctors and travellers are also encouraged to get their shot.

Flu shots are available now and until March, about as long as the flu season is expected to last.

The public health unit is also offering pneumonia shots for the elderly or chronically ill.

The big push for Pneumovax began last year across Canada and this year the unit is keeping it up, said Hamilton.