With flu season approaching, public health nurses across Interior Health are gearing up for this year’s influenza (flu) vaccination campaign. Last year, over 173,000 seasonal flu shots were provided free of charge to those at risk of complications from the flu.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) determines the strains to be included in the annual influenza vaccine based on flu trends worldwide. This year’s vaccine contains three different flu strains that will offer protection against two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus,” said Dr. Rob Parker, Medical Health Officer with Interior Health. “Getting a flu shot and washing your hands frequently are the two most effective ways to protect yourself and other from getting the flu.”
The flu is highly contagious and can cause severe complications for those with heart, lung, and other health problems. Even if you don’t become severely ill, getting the flu can mean several missed days of school, work, and other activities.
To find a flu clinic near you, watch for local announcements on dates and times in your community, visit our website at www.interiorhealth.ca/FluClinics, or contact your local public health centre.
Many physician offices and pharmacies also provide vaccines free to those who are eligible. Turn to page six of this issue for a list of flu clinics within this area.
Flu shots are safe, effective, and free for those most at risk of getting the flu and its complications including:
• People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts
• People of any age in residential care facilities
• Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
• Children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) with conditions treated for long periods of time with Aspirin (ASA) and their household contacts
• Children and adults who are morbidly obese
• Aboriginal people
• All children six to 59 months of age
• Household contacts and caregivers of infants and children 0 to 59 months of age
• Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season and their household contacts
• Visitors to hospitals, health centres and residential care facilities
• People who work with live poultry
• Health-care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who are capable of transmitting influenza disease to those at high risk of influenza complications
• Individuals who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons
• People who provide essential community services (first responders, corrections workers)
While flu shots are free for those most at risk, everyone can benefit from the flu shot. People not eligible for the free flu vaccine through the publicly-funded program should contact their physician, local pharmacy, walk-in clinic, travel clinic, or private provider.
For more information, contact your local public health office or visit our website at www.interiorhealth.ca. Information on the flu shot is also available on the Immunize BC website at www.immunizebc.ca, or on HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc.ca.