News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

October 24, 2019


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Emergency Departments, Urgent Care Visits and Hospitalizations Due to Patients Suffering From Flu Creates Backlogs and Increased Wait Times: Friesen

The seasonal flu vaccine is once again available free of charge to all Manitobans aged six months and older, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today at the official launch of the annual influenza immunization campaign.

“I encourage all Manitobans to get the flu vaccine, but especially those at increased risk of serious illness from the flu, their caregivers, and close family and friends,” said Friesen, who received his vaccination this afternoon at Grant Park Shoppers Drug Mart.  “The flu vaccine protects you and helps to protect those around you including infants, people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or asthma, and those seeking treatment for cancer.  It’s about them, too.”

Despite national delivery delays by the vaccine manufacturers, Manitoba has received 84 per cent of its total allotment to date and is expected to receive its full vaccine allotment in the next couple weeks, said Friesen.  Approximately 240,000 doses have been shipped to health-care providers across the province.

Seventeen people with lab-confirmed flu died in Manitoba during last year’s flu season, while another 42 were admitted into intensive care units.  In total, there were 228 hospitalizations due to influenza during the 2018-19 season.  Comparatively, the 2017-18 season hit 10-year highs, with 46 deaths, 35 ICU admissions and 505 hospitalizations.

There is no way to know how bad the flu season will be until it starts.  However, emergency department and urgent care visits and hospitalizations due to patients suffering from the flu increases wait times and is costly to the health-care system.  Immunization is a cost-effective way to reduce the chance of getting the flu and needing health-care services.

“Manitobans can help protect themselves, their friends and family by getting the flu vaccine, which is safe and effective,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.  “In order to help prevent influenza and its complications, it is recommended that all eligible Manitobans receive the flu shot in early fall every year.”

A record number of people received flu vaccines last winter in Manitoba, with more than 336,000 doses administered.  In total, 23.6 per cent of people with Manitoba health cards received the vaccine.

A special high-dose seasonal flu vaccine is once again available for senior residents of long-term care facilities. The high-dose vaccine may provide better protection for those at increased risk of complications from the flu, potentially reducing the number of outbreaks experienced in long-term care facilities and better protect those at highest risk of complications.

“As we age our bodies change and it is important that we use all the tools provided to us to ensure we stay healthy.  Flu vaccines are a great preventative measure that reduces the risk of illness for all Manitobans, but particularly for older adults,” said Tom Farrell, president, Manitoba Association of Senior Centres.  “We must also consider those around us, like our spouse, our children, grandchildren and friends.  Social connection is very important and avoiding the flu also helps those around us.”

The flu vaccine and Pneu-P-23 vaccine, which helps protect against pneumococcal disease and is offered free of charge to seniors, are available at local public health offices, nursing stations, doctors’ offices, and Access Centres.  Pharmacists can also provide immunization services to people seven years of age and older.  Manitobans interested in getting the vaccine should contact providers first to ensure they are available.

The nasal spray form (FluMist Quadrivalent – AstraZeneca) will not be available in Canada for the 2019-20 influenza season.  Regional health authorities, including the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, will also hold immunization clinics.

Check Manitoba’s seasonal influenza website at or contact Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 in Winnipeg or 1-888-315-9257 toll-free for dates, times and locations.

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