Premier gets jabbed to highlight flu-shot season

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Premier Brian Pallister bared his arm and took a jab for the greater good on Thursday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/10/2020 (779 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Premier Brian Pallister bared his arm and took a jab for the greater good on Thursday.

Manitoba’s top doctor administered the premier’s flu shot in front of cameras at the legislature Thursday to convince people to get the free vaccine during the pandemic.

“As we prepare to deal with the flu season and COVID at the same time, it’s never been more important for Manitobans to get a flu shot,” Pallister told reporters waiting to see chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin inject the premier with the vaccine.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin gives premier Brian Pallister his flu shot at the Manitoba Legislative Building on Thursday. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

“We’re likely going to have to deal with influenza on top of COVID, so we have got to do what we can to limit that burden of respiratory illness this year,” Roussin said an hour before announcing another daily record of 173 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Manitoba. Anticipating the double-whammy of a deadly pandemic on top of seasonal flu that also claims vulnerable lives, the goal is to get as many people vaccinated against the flu as possible to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by respiratory illnesses.

“We all have a role to play in protecting our most vulnerable citizens and our health care system so it’s there when we need it,” Pallister said.

The premier encouraged Manitobans to visit their family physician’s office, local pharmacy, access centre, local nursing station or immunization clinic to get the flu shot. All Manitobans six months of age and older are advised to get the flu vaccine early every fall, but even more so this year as COVID-19 cases surge in Manitoba, said Roussin.

A new advertising campaign with the tag line “Add a Layer This Fall” encourages Manitobans to add an extra layer of protection — a flu shot — as the province prepares to deal with the flu season and COVID-19 at the same time. It targets the most vulnerable and their caregivers, including the health-care sector and the public service.

Roussin expects COVID-19 will spur people to get a flu shot.

“I think that being in a pandemic helps this campaign out quite a bit,” the doctor said. “I think people are very concerned about circulating viruses this year.”

The vaccine is procured nationally and although Manitoba is not expecting a shortage, “we’re watching that demand,” Roussin said.

“We’ve shipped out close to 150,000 doses already and so it’s making its way into doctors’ offices and pharmacies as we speak,” said Roussin.

“We do prioritize high-risk groups: long-term care, First Nations, health care institutions,” for example. “They get the priority doses. Those are already out the door.”

Public health officials hope 40 per cent of the population will get the flu vaccine and have ordered 20 per cent more than last flu season, Roussin said.

He urged Manitobans to get the flu shot — “It’s very safe, very effective” — and to keep practising the fundamentals: staying home when ill, keeping their distance, and wearing a mask when they can’t. The flu shot can only protect people from the flu, Roussin warned.

“It’s not going to protect us from COVID,” he said before sanitizing his bare hands several times prior to administering the premier’s flu shot.

Both doctor and patient appeared to be smiling behind their masks and the premier didn’t flinch when Roussin stuck him with the needle.

“Manitobans have a long and proud history of taking care of one another and facing our challenges together,” Pallister said. “That’s what the flu shot will help us do. It works. It protects each of us. It protects our family and friends, our fellow Manitobans.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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