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Winnipeggers urged to get influenza shot, use alternatives to ED for minor treatment

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Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Monday, January 16, 2017

Winnipeggers are being reminded to get their flu shots and consider alternatives to visiting the emergency department for care as hospitals prepare for the height of the flu season.

Hospitals are already at or near capacity as they deal with a high volume of admitted patients, along with many presenting at Emergency Departments with influenza-like symptoms.

Patient numbers are expected to grow in the weeks ahead, according to Lori Lamont, Vice-President of Inter-Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. 

"In addition to regular patient traffic, we've also had a surge in people presenting at our emergency departments with signs of respiratory illness," said Lamont. "That, coupled with the expectation that flu season will put additional pressure on beds, means we need to do all we can to manage capacity in hospitals.

"All parts of our health-care system are working as hard as possible to support patients and to provide care," said Lamont.

In order to ease the burden on emergency departments, Lamont said people in need of urgent health care over the next few weeks should consider the full range of available options.

"If you don't need to go to an emergency department, don't. Use other options such as your family physician, walk-in clinics, or QuickCare Clinics," she said.

In addition, health officials say that although flu season is well underway, it is still possible - and helpful - to get a flu shot.

"This year's vaccine is a good match for the virus going around this year," says Dr. Bunmi Fatoye, a medical officer of health with the Region.

"All it takes is a few minutes to get the shot. By doing so, you can equip yourself with antibodies that will, at the very least, help reduce the severity of the flu. If you don't get the flu shot, you have nothing to protect you; you've left your health to chance," she adds.

For more information about where to get a flu shot, contact your doctor, pharmacist, local QuickCare Clinic or ACCESS Centre.

For more information, visit www.myrightcare.ca.

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