What is influenza?
Influenza, often called the flu, is a serious and contagious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization, and death in severe cases. The infection spreads when a person comes into contact with droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of influenza may include fever, aches, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Visit healthlink.ca to find out more about influenza.
How can I protect myself?
Protect yourself and your loved ones against influenza by getting your flu shot and preventing the spread of germs. It is important to get a flu shot yearly because influenza viruses change from year to year. Each year the vaccine is updated to include the current viruses that are circulating. Generally, the flu shot offers protection against two influenza A viruses (presently an H1N1 and an H3N2 virus) and one influenza B virus. This year’s vaccine offers protection from the following types of flu strains:
A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus;
This year, two additional quadrivalent vaccines are available. In addition to the strains above these vaccines also offer protection from B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. These vaccines are intended for children 6 months to 17 years of age.
Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?
Flu shots are safe, easy to get, and free for those at risk and their household contacts.
The people at the greatest risk of influenza related complications are adults and children with underlying health conditions, residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, people 65 years of age and older, children under 60 months of age, pregnant women, and Aboriginal peoples.
It’s important that those who have loved ones that are most at risk of complications from influenza get vaccinated. This will help to build a wall of protection around your loved one and reduce their chances of acquiring influenza illness.
The flu shots is free for the following people:
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;
All children 6 to 59 months of age;
Household contacts and caregivers of infants and children birth to 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 (e.g., crews on ships); and
People who provide essential community services (first responders, corrections workers).
Where can I get a flu shot?
The influenza vaccine is available through your pharmacist, health care provider, First Nations community health nurses or your local health unit.
Interior Health immunization clinics will begin the week of Oct 28 and will continue in communities throughout the month of November. Influenza vaccine will continue to be available throughout the winter season by appointment. Call your local health centre for more information.
Source: Interior Health