FREDERICTON (GNB) – The publicly funded seasonal flu vaccine is now available in the province.

“The risk of severe disease and complications from seasonal influenza is higher among young children, elderly people, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems or other chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting chief medical officer of health. “I encourage all New Brunswickers, especially those who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza, to protect themselves and get immunized.”

The Department of Health encourages all health-care workers, such as physicians and nurses, to continue to be a partner in protection by getting vaccinated against the flu and encouraging their patients to do the same. Each year the strains of seasonal influenza viruses change. As a result, the flu vaccine also needs to change each year to ensure it protects against the current viruses.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is available free to the following residents, through a variety of immunization providers, and programs:

  • adults and children with chronic health conditions:
    • cardiac or pulmonary disorders (including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, cystic fibrosis and asthma);
    • diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases;
    • cancer, immune compromising conditions (due to underlying disease and/or therapy);
    • renal disease;
    • anemia or hemoglobinopathy;
    • neurologic or neurodevelopment conditions. These include seizure disorders, febrile seizures and isolated developmental delay in children and neuromuscular, neurovascular, neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental conditions and seizure disorders in adults, but excludes migraines and neuropsychiatric conditions without neurological conditions;
    • conditions that compromise the management of respiratory secretions and are associated with an increased risk of aspiration;
    • morbid obesity (body mass index greater than 40); and
    • children and adolescents (ages six months to 18 years) undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid, because of the potential increase of Reye’s syndrome associated with influenza;
  • people of any age who are residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities;
  • people 65 and older;
  • healthy children six months to 18 years;
  • pregnant women;
  • aboriginal people;
  • people capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk:
    • household contacts (adults and children) of individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications (whether or not the individual at high risk has been immunized), as listed above;
    • household contacts of infants younger than six months;
    • household contacts of children six months to 59 months;
    • members of a household expecting a newborn during the influenza season;
    • health-care workers.

All healthy persons, 19 to 64, who do not have contraindications to influenza vaccine are also encouraged to get it.

“The flu should not be underestimated as it leads to hospitalizations and deaths every year,” said Russell. “Vaccination is recognized as the single most effective way of reducing the impact of seasonal influenza, especially for those most at risk of complications.”

During the 2016-17 influenza season, there were about 1,200 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, 327 influenza-related hospitalizations including 37 patients admitted to intensive care units, and 14 deaths due to illness associated with influenza.

More information is available online, or by contacting your health-care provider.

Media Contact(s)

Sarah Williams, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-6784.