Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen has announced that the provincial government is doubling its order of the high-dose influenza vaccine.

This is to address the anticipated demand and expand the criteria for who can receive it free of charge.

In a press release, Minister Friesen says COVID-19 will make the flu season even more difficult to deal with.

“That’s why our government is taking every precaution to help keep Manitobans safe. By doubling our order of high-dose influenza vaccine and making it available to more people at high risk of contracting the flu, we are able to protect them, as well as our health-care providers on the front line.”

The high-dose influenza vaccine is an immunization created for those aged 65 years and older.

Manitoba was the first province to offer to that age group and those living in long-term care facilities, clients in interim or transitional care beds, respite care clients or unimmunized residents admitted to long-term care homes during the flu season. 

 This year, the Manitoba government is expanding criteria for the vaccine to allow more seniors to get the high-dose influenza vaccine starting this fall including:

  • Residents of supportive and assisted living housing;
  • Those who are newly incarcerated or transferred from other federal or out-of-province correctional facilities;
  • Those receiving home care services while on a waiting list for admission into a long-term care facility;
  • Those living on a First Nation or remote communities; and
  • Those living north of the 53rd parallel of latitude.

 Manitoba was the first province to offer a high-dose version of the flu vaccine in 2017 and since then, other provinces have followed suit.

The province ordered 11,500 high-dose vaccines last year and this year will be ordering up to 21,500 high-dose vaccines.

In 2019-20, over 26.3 per cent of all Manitobans received the flu vaccine, the highest ever, and Friesen expects demand to increase this year.

Pharmacies, physicians and other providers can start placing their influenza vaccine orders next Monday, August 17th, with the vaccine expected to start arriving in late September.

Dr Brent Roussin also commented on the flu season.

“Manitobans need to plan for a challenging flu season as COVID-19, influenza and colds will be occurring at the same time this fall. Getting the flu vaccine or the high-dose influenza vaccine is an important step that will help keep you and those around you healthy this season. Staying home when you are sick, practising good hand hygiene and covering your cough also helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.”

Visit Manitoba’s seasonal influenza website at www.manitoba.ca/flu or contact Health Links-Info Santé at 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free) for more information.