A special flu shot clinic will be held soon in Hay River.
But unlike previous years when flu shots were offered as part of an Adult Health Fair in November, the upcoming clinic will be held over two weeks.
“We are offering this for two full weeks, versus one day,” said Lorie Steinwand, the public health supervisor with the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.
The flu clinic, which will be held in the old medical clinic building, will run from Oct. 26 to Oct. 30, and from Nov. 2 to Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.
There will be booked appointments only by calling Public Health, said Steinwand. “There’ll be no walk-ins.”
The annual Adult Health Fair will not take place this year because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Steinwand is hopeful there will be a big demand for the flu shot this year.
“It’s not only to protect yourself, but it is to protect others around you that may have low immune systems, that may have other chronic diseases that may become more susceptible to spreading the flu,” she said. “So it’s really important if we can try to protect ourselves and others around us. This is one of the great ways of doing it.”
Steinwand noted that, during the week of Oct. 19, nurses will also be going out into the community to offer flu shots to specific groups, such as teachers, healthcare workers, seniors and high-risk people.
Those community visits are not new, she said. “It happens every year in the third week of October.”
Steinwand stressed that the flu shot is not the only way to fight the flu, but it is also important to wash your hands, cough and sneeze into your arm, clean high-touch areas, wear masks, and follow social distancing practices.
“All those things come into play, as well as the flu vaccine,” she said. “So when you come to our flu vaccine clinic, we will not just be giving you the flu vaccine but also will be providing you with some of the preventative ways that you can protect yourself from influenza that also correlates with Covid-19.”
The flu vaccine is offered to everyone six months of age and older, but is particularly encouraged for anyone who has a chronic disease, anyone who’s pregnant and elderly people.
The clinic will feature three registered nurses, including Steinwand.
She is also running a flu clinic on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 at the Anne Buggins Wellness Centre on the Hay River Reserve, and another on Nov. 10 in Enterprise.
In a weekly media availability on Oct. 7, Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer for the NWT, also stressed the importance of getting the flu shot, especially in this time of Covid-19.
“The symptoms of Covid and symptoms of flu present in a similar fashion,” said Kandola. “The difference is we have a vaccine for the flu. Flu can impact similar people at increased risk for severity and hospitalization. So to limit the strain on the healthcare system and limit your anxiety developing symptoms, not knowing if it’s Covid or flu, better to proactively get your flu shot.”
Kandola encouraged all people to get the flu shot, not only those at increased risk.