H1N1 flu virus vaccines begin next week

Just as the province announced the confirmed dates of the H1N1 flu vaccine, B.C.’s Northeast Medical Health Officer has announced an increase of H1N1 cases in Northern Health’s jurisdiction.

Dr. Charl Badenhorst discussed the virus on Wednesday morning’s Issues and Answers.

Last week, Northern Health announced that there were 62 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu virus in the northeast. Now, Dr. Badenhorst says there are 92 confirmed cases.

But, he says practically everyone who has the flu, has the H1N1 virus strain. And it’s likely that number is significantly higher, because not everyone gets diagnosed.

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Dr. Badenhorst says the H1N1 is the predominate strain of the flu virus. In lab studies, he says more than 90 per cent of all analyzed swabs were positive for H1N1 rather than the seasonal flu.

Predominant symptoms include a fever of more than 38 degrees Celsius and a cough. Some patients experience a sore throat and muscle pain. Patients usually recover in three to five days, though they remain contagious for up to seven days after their symptoms are gone.

Meanwhile, the province has announced that it will begin vaccinations during the week of October 26th. Dr. Badenhorst says those at high-risk will get the shot first.

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Those at high risk include individuals under 65 years of age with chronic disease, pregnant women, and individuals – including First Nations people – living in remote or isolated communities.

Anyone who wishes to get the seasonal flu shot can get it at the same time as the H1N1 vaccine.  Officials say getting both shots at the same time is unlikely to impair the immune response to either one.

During the week of November 2nd, the vaccines will be available to children between six months and five years of age, health care workers, and care providers of infants less than six months of age.

The vaccine will be available to everyone else in mid to late November.

The province has also announced that specially trained pharmacists will be able to vaccinate patients. For information about upcoming flu clinics at your local pharmacy, talk to your pharmacist.

Clinic locations will be posted in the near future on www.immunizebc.ca

Alternatively, people can call 811 for clinic information, or visit www.northernhealth.ca

For more information on the vaccine, Click Here.