Flu shots are now available at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, walk-in clinics and specialized public health flu clinics.
“In a typical flu season, thousands of people develop serious illness or even die from the flu or its complications, such as pneumonia,” said chief medical health officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder. “The influenza vaccine is the best protection against influenza illness and its complications and is a safe and effective way to help people stay healthy, prevent illness, and even save lives.”
There are between 4,000 and 8,000 deaths from influenza and its complications each year in Canada.
Fraser Health recommends flu shots for everyone. They are free in B.C. for a long list of people: children from six months to five years of age; people 65 years and older; pregnant women; Aboriginal people; people with chronic health conditions; and those with compromised immune systems.
The vaccine is also important for anyone who lives or works with a person who is at higher risk of problems from the flu.
To protect patients in health care facilities, last year British Columbia’s health authorities adopted a policy requiring all doctors, staff, students and volunteers to get immunized or to wear a mask while at work during influenza season. To further protect patients, we’re also asking people visiting our facilities to do the same. Masks will be available at nursing stations and/or outpatient reception desks. People planning to visit loved ones in a health care facility or who will take family members to outpatient appointments are also eligible for a free flu shot.
New this year is the availability of a nasal spray vaccine, Flumist. It is free for eligible children aged two to 17 years old. It is a live vaccine that provides better protection in younger children than the regular flu shot. As it is sprayed into the nose, it has the added advantage of being needle-free.
• For a complete list of flu clinics, visit our website at www.fraserhealth.ca/flushot, contact your local Public Health office, or consult the BC Flu Clinic Locator at immunizebc.ca or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1. Bring your CareCard or other government I.D. (valid driver’s licence) to the clinic, and wear a short-sleeved shirt.