The government of Manitoba is once again encouraging families to get a flu shot this season.

The province said the flu contributed to the deaths of 12 people and the hospitalization of another 150, and that it is important for all Manitobans older than six months to get immunized.

Dr. Elise Weiss, acting chief provincial public health officer, also said this year the flu vaccine is designed to protect against a strain of the flu that can lead to more deaths among very old and very young patients with the flu. She said more cases of the H3N2 strain are surfacing in Australia, which experiences flu season earlier than Canada.

The province said immunization is especially important for those who are at high risk of serious illness from the flu and those who are in close contact with people at high risk. Factors that make people more vulnerable to serious illness include being older than age 65, living in a personal care home, being between six months to six years of age, living with a chronic illness, being pregnant, and being Indigenous.

Seniors are also advised to get a pneumococcal vaccine, available for free to people older than age 65 and other eligible people who are at an increased risk of infection.

Flu shots are available at public health offices, nursing stations, doctor’s offices, pharmacy ACCESS Centres or at flu shot clinics.