Surrey – Every year, approximately 3,500 people die from the flu in Canada and the vast majority are seniors. With influenza already starting to show up in our region this year, Fraser Health is reminding everyone to get their flu shot, not only to protect themselves but also their loved ones.
“The Southern Hemisphere had particularly high influenza activity due to H3N2 virus during their most recent season. There is a possibility that the H3N2 virus will also circulate in our region this year. This strain often hits the elderly the hardest and puts them at high risk for complications such as pneumonia, hospitalizations, and even death,” says Fraser Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal. “To help protect them and other vulnerable members of our communities like infants, young children, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions, we encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine.”
This approach, often referred to as ‘community’, or ‘herd’ immunity occurs when a critical portion of the community is immunized against contagious illnesses like influenza. This helps people who can’t get a flu shot for health or medical reasons, by limiting the spread of the virus – those who are protected act as a barrier to the spread of the virus to others.
“We want people to understand that sharing isn’t always caring. No one wants to get the flu, especially those most at risk. So show you care by getting your shot and sparing your loved ones potential sickness,” said Dr. Bharmal.
Flu shots are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older and are available free of cost in B.C. for all children between six months and five years old, seniors 65 years old and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal 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.
B.C. health authorities require doctors, staff, students and volunteers to get immunized or wear a mask during the flu season. To further protect patients, unvaccinated visitors to Fraser Health facilities are asked to wear a mask, beginning December 1, 2017. Masks will be available at nursing stations and/or outpatient reception desks.
Flu shots are now available at your doctor’s office, walk-in clinics and pharmacies. To find a flu clinic near you, click here.
Influenza is a virus which 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 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 even sick with symptoms.
For more information about the flu, click here.