It’s flu season and Interior Health is offering several options for immunizations in Kimberley and the surrounding areas.
Every year in Canada, about 12,200 people are hospitalized and 3,500 people die from influenza or its complications.
Interior Health advises that the flu shot is a safe and effective way to help protect the public, especially children, pregnant women, seniors, people with chronic illnesses and others who are most at risk from influenza and complications.
“Influenza, which people often call the flu, is sometimes confused with the common cold, the stomach flu (norovirus) or other illnesses caused by a virus,” said Dr. Rakel Kling, Medical Health Officer. “However, influenza is different – it is a serious infection of the airways that can be quite severe. It is highly contagious and is among the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada.”
Influenza spreads when a person comes into contact with droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Symptoms can include fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat or cough.
— Interior Health (@Interior_Health) October 12, 2017
Symptoms can begin about one to four days, or an average of two days, after a person is first exposed to the virus. Fever and other symptoms can usually last up to seven to ten days but the cough and weakness may last one to two weeks longer.
“The best ways to help protect yourself and those around you from influenza are to get immunized, wash your hands frequently, and to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. If you are sick, stay at home and keep sick children away from daycares and schools,” said Dr. Kling.
The flu shot provides protection from the influenza virus strains expected to be circulating this season based on worldwide trends identified by the World Health Organization. This year’s flu shot offers protection against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and H3N2 virus) and one influenza B virus. For those under 18, the preferred vaccine also protects against an additional B influenza virus.
On Wednesday, Nov. 1 from 9a.m. to 4p.m. at the Kimberley Centennial Hall there will be a free flu shot clinic for those who qualify.
The following is a list of eligibility criteria:
– People 65 years 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 very obese
– Aboriginal people
– All children six to 59 months of age
– Household contacts and caregivers of infants and children 0-59 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 providers in facilities and community settings who are capable of transmitting influenza disease to those at high risk of influenza complications
– Individuals who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons (for example, crew on ships)
– People who provide essential community services (first responders, corrections workers etc.)
– Inmates of provincial correctional institutions
People not eligible for free flu vaccine through the publicly-funded program should contact their physician, local pharmacy, walk-in clinic, travel clinic or private provider. Those who are not eligible for the free vaccine will be required to pay a fee.
Interior Health also reminds the public that during the flu season, visitors who have not had a flu shot are required to wear a mask when visiting hospitals, health centre and residential care facilities, including contacted facilities.
If you do get sick with the flu, Interior Health says that home treatment can help ease symptoms. Those treatments include plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, avoiding smoking, breathing in moist air from a hot shower or a sink filled with hot water to help clear stuffy nose and considering non-prescription cough and cold medications (not recommended for children under the age of six).
For more information visit the Interior Health website at www.interiorhealth.ca.