Northern Health encourages residents to protect themselves and get a flu shot

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Health talked influenza and clinics this morning in a conference call earlier this morning.

Dr. Andrew Gray, Northern Health Northern Interior Health Officer, and Patricia Strim, Regional Nursing Lead, Public Health Regional Communicable Diseases shared why people should get the flu shot to protect themselves.

“Influenza is a disease every year in B.C. that causes a burden of illness. it causes several thousand people to be hospitalized. It causes several hundred deaths a year.” said Gray.

He says the flu can hit anyone but can be especially dangerous to those at high risk due to medical conditions and age.

Some symptoms of the flu are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle Pain
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue

The flu can last 7-10 days and it can lead to complications such as pneumonia or other health issues in those that are high risk.

Northern Health says 5-10% of people get influenza every year. Gray says if you haven’t gotten the flu in recent years, this year could be your year.

Washing your hands regularly, covering your cough, disposing of tissues in the garbage are all ways to help prevent the spread of the flu. If you do get sick, staying home is also a wise option says Gray. The most important step: get the influenza vaccine.

They estimate the vaccine is 50% effective across all seasons. They compare it to a family of 5 getting sick without vaccines, but with vaccines only 2 getting sick.

Patricia Strim says the best way to find the clinic near you is to go online.

northernhealth.ca and immunize B.C.’s flu clinic locator which is located at immunizebc.ca. You can also call the B.C. nurse line at 811.

The immunize B.C. flu clinic locator also has the information on other options for getting a flu shot, like your local pharmacy.”

Flu shots are available for free to a broad range of people. If you are at high risk of suffering complications from influenza, you can get immunized for free. People who could also spread influenza to someone in the high risk group can be immunized for free.

A complete list of those who are eligible for free vaccines are available at northernhealth.ca or immunizebc.ca.

There are lots of promotions happening to push people to get a flu shot. They said last year there was more hesitancy because the year before that, there was a poor match. Northern Health hopes that won’t be an issue this year.

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