Plan to get a flu shot as flu season approaches

Local health authorities urge protection against flu before season hits

  • Oct. 26, 2011 1:00 p.m.

 

With flu season approaching, public health nurses across Interior Health have geared up and launched this year’s influenza (flu) vaccination campaign, which began the week of October 11.

“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,” says 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. 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 proven safe and effective and 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 six-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. 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 your phone book) or visit our website at www.interiorhealth.ca. Information is also available on the Immunize BC website at www.immunizebc.ca, or on HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc

 

– Lesley Coates

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