Interior Health is gearing up to provide free flu shots for anyone at-risk of complications. Its intention is to protect children, pregnant women, seniors, people with chronic illnesses and others from more serious illness.
In a typical influenza season, thousands of Canadians develop serious illness or even die from influenza or its complications. The flu shot is a safe and effective way to help people stay healthy, prevent illness and save lives.
“Many people incorrectly use the term ‘flu’ to refer to any illness caused by a virus, such as the stomach flu or the common cold. However, influenza tends to be more severe. Influenza reduces the body’s ability to fight illnesses and infections and it can also increase a person’s risk for developing other serious conditions, including viral or bacterial pneumonia,” said Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, medical health officer. “Getting a flu shot and washing your hands frequently are the two most effective ways to protect yourself and others from influenza and its complications.”
The flu shot provides protection from the influenza virus strains expected to be circulating this season based on trends worldwide. This year’s flu shot offers protection against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2 virus) and one influenza B virus. For those under 18, the preferred vaccine also protects against an additional B influenza virus.
The flu shot is free for those at-risk of complications from influenza and those in contact with people at risk.This includes: • 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 6-59 months of age
• Household contacts and caregivers of infants and children 0-59 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
• People who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high-risk persons
• People who provide essential community services (first responders, corrections workers)
Interior Health holds public clinics for those who are eligible for the free flu shot. Public clinics will start in some communities the week of Oct. 27. Many doctor’s offices, pharmacies and walk-in clinics are also providing flu shots.
Those who are not eligible for the free vaccine will be required to pay a fee.
To find a flu shot clinic or provider near you, watch for local announcements on dates and times in your community, contact your local public health centre or visit the Influenza Clinic Locator (http://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu) on the ImmunizeBC website. For more information visit our website at www.interiorhealth.ca.