The start of flu shot season in Manitoba is now only days away.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says because of the anticipated uptake this year, they have ordered 20 per cent more vaccinations.

"System leaders have really clearly said that we believe that there will be a higher uptake this year simply because of their sensitivity to these issues," notes Friesen.

He says they are also increasing the high dose flu vaccine. According to Friesen, Manitoba became the first province to give those to all residents in personal care homes. He notes this year's campaign will see a significant expansion of that.

Friesen says the province has already received 78,000 doses of the flu shot. Their full shipment of orders is expected in the next few weeks.

The vaccine is coming from three different suppliers in Manitoba. Friesen says they will first be distributed through public health, then through doctors' offices and then pharmacies.

"We will expect probably within a week or so, that those first doses will be administered," says Friesen.

Dr. Brent Roussin is Chief Provincial Public Health Officer for Manitoba. He encourages everyone who is eligible, to receive the vaccine.

Roussin says historically, influenza kills thousands of Canadians every year, yet only about one-quarter of Manitobans get the shot.

Meanwhile, Roussin notes the flu season in parts of the southern hemisphere saw a record low in cases this year.

"That is because influenza is spread much the same way as COVID-19," he says. "And all the precautionary fundamentals that we have in place right now we expect to protect against the flu as well."

Roussin says he is not sure what the flu vaccine uptake was in the southern hemisphere, which could have been another contributor.