Prevention Encouraged due to Increased Influenza Activity in Area

As the holiday season draws closer, the Cypress Health Region would like to advise the public that there are increasing incidences of influenza and other respiratory illness moving through the communities in the health region and province. The influenza season will last several months with a number of influenza strains circulating, and there are specific strains that will predominate at any particular time.

“Immunization is the most effective measure to prevent influenza,” says Dr. David Torr, Consulting Medical Health Officer for the Cypress Health Region. “Additional preventative measures include frequent and effective handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home will feeling ill.”

Dr. Torr acknowledged the efforts of health providers during the initial phases of the influenza season. “Our public health nursing team and physician clinics have done a terrific job of providing immunizations across the health region,” added Dr. Torr. “Drop in clinics and appointments are still available. The annual immunization provides protection for the individual receiving it, but also provides an indirect benefit for family, friends, and co-workers.”

The remaining December drop-in clinic is scheduled for Friday, December 19th at the E.I. Wood Building in Swift Current. A number of additional drop-in clinic dates have just been confirmed for Swift Current in the new year and are available free of charge. A list of these and other clinic opportunities are available by visiting the Influenza page.

Dr. Torr applauded the understanding of the general public, visitors to facilities, and staff members in relation to the provincial implementation of the ‘immunize or mask’ policy in health care facilities and offices where patient care is being provided. The expectations of the policy are for anyone who has made the choice not to be immunized for influenza this fall will be expected to wear a procedure mask during the influenza season. Masks, handwashing stations, and/or sanitizing hand gel are available at the front entrance of all health region facilities.

“The policy applies to staff, physicians, visitors, general public, volunteers, vendors, and others who are within our facilities,” said Dr. Torr. “Our staff have had the option to receive their immunization this fall or mask while in patient areas, and we are strongly emphasizing that visitors wear a mask while in our facilities if they have not received their immunization. This will play a major role in reducing the risk of illness spread into, and out of, our patient care areas.”

As of December 16th statistics, 82% of the health region’s staff have received their influenza immunization. Dr. Torr is anticipating that it will make a difference in the protection of patients, residents and clients within the region’s facilities over the winter months. Meanwhile, current statistics show that approximately 30% of the public have received their immunization.

For more information on influenza, upcoming public health nursing immunization clinics, and available resources, please visit the influenza page.