Flu vaccine available for pregnant women and children under five

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CORNER BROOK — Western Health is now targeting pregnant women and children under five in the offering of vaccinations for influenza.

Those two groups have been singled out “because they have been shown to be at a higher risk from complications of seasonal influenza,” said Catherine McDonald, vice-president of health protection, in a press release.

The predominant strain in confirmed cases of influenza this season has been H1N1 and the release said the highest prevalence of the flu in Newfoundland and Labrador has been in the zero to five age group.

Targeting the vaccine to specific populations comes at a time when the province is experiencing a vaccine shortage.

However, McDonald said “there will be more vaccine available throughout the region in the coming weeks.”

Those additional vaccines will be made available to residents in a manner that focuses on those most at risk.

Anyone who fits the current criteria is encouraged to call their community health nursing office to arrange a time to receive the influenza vaccine.

Influenza is easily spread from person to person by contact with respiratory droplets by an infected person when they cough or sneeze, and through shaking hands with an infected person, or touching contaminated surfaces.  

Symptoms of influenza typically include the sudden onset of headache, chills, cough, fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Influenza is normally treated with over-the-counter pain and fever relief medication and does not usually require any other treatment.

It may take up to a week or more for symptoms to subside.

If symptoms persist or worsen, see your health-care provider.

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