Vancouver Coastal Health urges everyone to not go viral

Flu shots now available and are free in many cases

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is reminding everyone in Powell River and around the province that flu season is fast approaching and the best way to protect themselves and their loved ones is the flu shot.

“This is one of those times when going viral is not cool,” said Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal. “Instead, help protect vulnerable members of our communities including infants, young children, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions, by getting your flu shot.”

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Flu shots are recommended for everyone six months of age and older and are available free of cost in BC for all children between six months and five years old, seniors 65 years old and older, pregnant women, Indigenous people and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. People who work or live with people who have a higher risk of complications from the flu, and visitors to health care facilities are also eligible for a free vaccine.

“This flu season, consider seeking immunization for yourself, your family and your loved ones,” said provincial health minister Adrian Dix. “It’s a small and easy step to take to prevent and protect yourself and your community from the potentially life-altering effects of influenza. Be proactive about your health and have a flu shot.”

The intranasal flu vaccine, FluMist, is not available for use in Canada this season. All influenza vaccines available this year will be given by injection.

“For healthy people, having the flu means a few days of feeling miserable, but for young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, it can lead to a severe illness involving a hospital stay, or even death,” said VCH medical health officer Dr. Meena Dawar. “The flu shot is the best way to not only protect yourself, but also the higher-risk people around you.”

All BC health authorities require their staff, students, volunteers and physicians to get immunized or wear a mask while at work during the flu season. To further protect patients, unvaccinated visitors to all VCH facilities are asked to wear a mask, beginning December 1, 2019. Masks will be available at nursing stations and/or outpatient reception desks.

Flu shots are now available at doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, public health-led flu clinics and urgent primary care centres. Anyone five years of age or older can be immunized at a pharmacy.

Influenza is a virus that causes infection of the upper airway, and can lead to symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and cough. Complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, are more common in the very young, the elderly and those with heart, lung or other health conditions. Influenza is easily spread from person to person, and an infected person can spread the virus before they are sick with symptoms.

For more information about the flu, go to vch.ca/flu.

 
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