The provincial government says it is working to secure more than 40,000 flu vaccines for use in Newfoundland and Labrador, which are expected to be received over the next three weeks.
© Star file photo
Health Minister Susan Sullivan is seen in this file photo.
The vaccines will be made public in a staged manner that focuses on those most at risk.
The province is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other provinces on the issue.
A news release notes that since Friday, 2,500 doses of vaccine have been received and distribution will focus on children under five years of age and pregnant women.
“Nationally, interest in vaccine outpaces available supply," said Health and Community Services Minister Susan Sullivan.
"We have worked with our counterparts across Canada to secure additional vaccine for use in our province.
"While more vaccine is expected to be secured in Newfoundland and Labrador over the coming days and weeks, at this time we have asked regional health authorities to target their efforts on children under age five and pregnant women as they have been shown to be at higher risk from the complications of seasonal influenza."
To date, there have been 109 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, the majority of which have been H1N1. There have been 17 hospitalizations, and seven admissions to intensive care.
In comparison, there were 259 cases of influenza, 88 hospitalizations, 11 admissions to intensive care, and five deaths at the same time last year.
“This year, we have had a positive uptake of our public vaccination program with close to 130,000 vaccines being administered to residents, which surpasses interest from previous years,"said Dr. Faith Stratton, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
"Previously, unused vaccine had to be discarded at the end of the flu season. In the meantime, outside of receiving the seasonal flu vaccine there are important steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu including, washing your hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and staying home when you are sick. Always remember to clean, cover, and contain.”
H1N1 has become a part of the normal seasonal flu viruses circulating over the last four years. The current flu vaccine protects against three strains of flu, including H1N1.