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Two flu-related deaths prompts uptick in flu shot interest
WINNIPEG -- Amidst a busy influenza season public health officials are reminding Manitobans that it is not too late to get the seasonal flu shot.
This week CTV News learned of the deaths of two Manitobans: grade 12 Kelvin High School student Blaine Ruppenthal and 24-year-old Joanne Ens from Morden, Manitoba.
The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Jason Hoeppner said Thursday that since those stories broke, more people have been coming in to inquire about getting vaccinated.
“We have definitely noticed it here. At least twice as many people I would say are coming in this week then say last week for their flu shot," he said.
Mostly parents with their kids, some telling Hoeppner that they had been meaning to get it done earlier.
"A few people have referenced the two deaths that we've had more recently as sort of a motivating factor," he added.
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority medical officer of health Dr. Bunmi Fatoye said it is important to remember that influenza season typically goes from November to spring and that the flu is a very serious illness that can lead to severe complications and outcomes.
Even in January she still recommends people get the flu shot.
"It takes about two weeks for your immune system to generate antibodies in response to the vaccine and since we are still in the middle of the flu season, there is still opportunity of benefit if you receive the flu vaccine now rather than later," she said.
Dr. Fatoye said that the flu usually takes a person about seven to10 days to get over, but everyone is different.
People with pre-existing conditions, compromised immune systems, children under five, and people over 65 are most at risk for influenza related complications.
When considering going to the doctor, she advises you be aware of what your baseline is.
“If you're beyond your baseline and you feel things are not right, it doesn’t harm to go see a doctor to get assessed," she said.
Even with a few more people coming into Hoeppner’s pharmacy for the flu shot, he said he still has a good supply.
Reminding people that pharmacists who are trained in giving vaccines can only administer shots to patients seven years and older.
The most recent provincial data shows 22 per cent of Manitobans have got the flu shot.
Lab-confirmed flu data is expected to be updated Friday afternoon by Manitoba Health.