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Flu shot clinics to open in Kelowna next week

With flu season approaching, public health nurses across Interior Health are gearing up for the launch of this year’s flu vaccination campaign that will begin the week next week.

Last year, over 145,000 seasonal flu shots were provided free of charge to those at risk of complications from the flu.

“Vaccine composition is developed by the World Health Organization based on flu trends worldwide. This year’s vaccine contains three different flu strains including the H1N1 strain,” said Dr. Rob Parker, medical health officer with Interior Health.

“The two most important ways to protect yourself from getting the flu are to wash your hands frequently and get your flu shot. This is especially important if you are over 65 or have a chronic health condition.”

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.

Flu vaccinations are a proven, safe and effective way to reduce your chances of getting the flu, say local health officials. The flu shot also lessens the severity of symptoms for those who do get the flu.

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 for a complete listing or contact your local Public Health office. Many physician offices and pharmacies also provide vaccines free to those who are eligible.

The flu shot is free for:

• People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts

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 Acetylsalicylic acid and their household contacts

Adults who are very obese

Aboriginal people

Healthy children age 6-23 months

Household contacts and caregivers of infants age 0-23 months

Pregnant women who will be in their third trimester during influenza season and their household contacts (pregnant women who are in other high risk groups can be immunized at any time during the pregnancy)

Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities

Health care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who are capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of influenza complications

Inmates and staff of provincial correctional institutions

People who work with live poultry and/or swine

While flu shots are free for those 65 and older and those at risk, anyone can benefit from a flu shot, says the IHA, adding it is 70 to 90 per cent effective in preventing influenza in healthy children and adults.

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 (look under Interior Health in the blue pages of the phone book) or visit the IHA website at www.interiorhealth.ca.

Information is also available on the Immunize B.C. website at www.immunizebc.ca, or on HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc.ca.

You can also call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to speak to a healthcare professional.

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