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The flu shot is here

Jessica Gray
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 01/06) - The 2006 flu shot is finally here. As of Monday, people in Yellowknife were able to get their free influenza vaccine in clinics set up around the city.

Dr. Andre Corriveau, the chief medical health officer for the NWT, said the vaccine was delayed nationally.

NNSL Photo/graphic
Celine Mantla closes her eyes as she gets her flu shot from Mary Carol Miller, a public health nurse, at the clinic hosted by the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority at Northern United Place Monday afternoon. - Jessica Gray/NNSL photo

"There was trouble growing one of the (influenza) strains," said Corriveau.

The vaccine includes three different strains of influenza that the World Heath Organization - the United Nations body that deals with health issues - predicts will be prevalent this year.

The recommended strains for the Northern hemisphere are: A Caledonia, A Wisconsin, and B Malaysia.

Corriveau said the people who have chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, those over 65, or people living or caring for someone who is sick or elderly should definitely get the shot.

"There are typically two outbreaks a year. One around the start of the school year and one after March break," he said.

The timing of the outbreak coincides with people travelling down south.

For Celine Mantla, the flu shot is the best way to prevent a week of fevers, running noses, and bed rest.

"It's important to get it every year," she said.

Mantla, who's also suffered from bouts of pneumonia in her life, said she's concerned about the flu getting into her respiratory system.

Mary Carol Miller, a public health nurse, gets her vaccination every year, no matter what.

"It's not just about me, it's about the people I look after," she said.

Miller was one of the nurses on hand at the flu clinic at Northern United Place Monday.

By the end of the day, she'll have given about 100 shots, she said.

Combined, Miller said around 400 people would be inoculated by the end of the day.

"There are too many reasons to get it," said Miller.

"If something is vaccine preventable, get the vaccine," she added.

So far this year, Corriveau said there haven't been any major outbreaks of the flu said Corriveau, except for isolated problems in places like Edmonton.

Health professionals aren't sure how bad the season will be, partly because no one is sure how well the vaccine will match up with the viruses people catch during the flu season.

Between 6,000 and 10,000 people die from flu related complications every year, said Corriveau.

The Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority identifies the flu season from October to April.

People with severe allergies to eggs should not get vaccinated.

Corriveau said there is enough vaccine for about 20,000 people this year.

That number is up from over 18,000 shots bought last year.