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Lining up to get shot

Chris Windeyer
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 06/06) - For the political cynic it was eye candy: a cabinet minister getting jabbed in the arm with a sharp object.

But health minister Leona Aglukkaq rolled up her sleeve took a needle in the arm Tuesday to get out the message that the flu shot is free to any Nunavummiut who wants it.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq gets a flu shot from regional communicable disease coordinator Deborah Van Dyk at a clinic in Iqaluit. Flu shots are available free to anyone who wants one. - Chris Windeyer/NNSL photo

The department will be holding drop-in flu shot clinics at the public health office in building 155 in the coming weeks, and public health manager Kristine Hutchison said teams will soon be dispatched to offices with 10 or more employees.

"What we're trying to do is get out into people's workplaces," she said.

Isaac Sobol, Nunavut's chief medical officer of health, said influenza kills thousands of people every year in North America.

"Not only can you prevent getting really sick yourself but you can also, we believe, protect other people in your family," he said.

The shot is especially useful for preventing transmission of the flu to elders, who are especially at risk, Sobol said.

That's why the department urges everyone to get the shot. Every health centre in the territory has a supply of the vaccine, he said.

The flu virus mutates every year, requiring a new batch of vaccines to be prepared for each season.

It's too early to tell how severe the influenza virus will be this year, said Carolina Palacios, the woman who plans for flu season and orders the vaccine for Nunavut.

The health department currently has a stockpile of enough vaccine to immunize 50 per cent of Nunavut's population at a cost of $3.80 per dose.

"We just have to immunize as many people as we can," Palacios said.