Local seniors qualify for influenza vaccines next week

Northern Health is encouraging local seniors to roll up their sleeves for the annual influenza vaccine, starting next week.

Fort St. John Public Health Nurse Ann Green says the service will offered to those at highest risk for seasonal flu, including people aged 65 years and older, and residents in long-term care homes.

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Following this round of seasonal vaccinations, the H1N1 flu vaccine will be rolled out in November to everyone who needs or wants it.

Green says there also will be a vaccine that helps protect against pneumonia offered at the same time.  Pneumonia is the most common complication of influenza.

Green also adds that the influenza shots are the most effective form of flu prevention, in addition to proper hand washing techniques.

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The walk-in clinics will be open to seniors on October 13 and 20 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Fort St. John Seniors Hall.

The seasonal flu vaccine will be offered again in early 2010 to everyone else who falls under the usual eligibility guidelines. This includes healthy children, and people at risk.

Meanwhile, Northern Health announced that effective December 1st of this year, the authority will not be offering non-publicly funded travel vaccines to residents in the north.

The health board states the vaccines are not publicly funded, and cites low demand for the service.

Northern Health is the last health board in the province to cut the travel vaccine from its list of practice.

Instead, Northern Health says it will focus on high-priority vaccine programs, such as seasonal influenza and H1N1. Public health resources will be directed to provide funded and high-priority vaccine services including those for influenza, infant, and school-age immunizations.

Travelers still have other options when it comes to getting the vaccine.

The Wellness Centre in Fort St. John will still be offering the service. (Call 250-785-3234 for more information)

Alternatively, travelers in the Northern Health jurisdiction can visit www.healthlinkbc.ca, or dial toll-free 8-1-1 for vaccine-related information.