Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is reminding everyone that flu season is fast approaching and the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is the flu shot.
Flu shots are recommended for everyone six months of age and older and are available free of cost in B.C. for all children between six months and five years old, seniors 65 years old and older, pregnant women, Indigenous people and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
People who work or live with people who have a higher risk of complications from the flu, and visitors to healthcare facilities are also eligible for a free vaccine. The intranasal flu vaccine, FluMist, is not available for use in Canada this season. All influenza vaccines available this season will be given by injection.
For healthy people, having the flu means a few days of feeling miserable, but for young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, it can lead to a severe illness involving a hospital stay, or even death.
All B.C. health authorities require their staff, students, volunteers and physicians to get immunized or wear a mask while at work during the flu season. To further protect patients, unvaccinated visitors to all Vancouver Coastal Health facilities are asked to wear a mask, beginning Dec. 1, 2019. Masks will be available at nursing stations and/or outpatient reception desks.
Flu shots are now available at your doctor's office, walk-in clinics, public health-led flu clinics and Urgent Primary Care Centres. Anyone five years of age or older can be immunized at a pharmacy. To find a flu clinic near you go to immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu#8.
Influenza is a virus that causes infection of the upper airway, and can lead to symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and cough. Complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, are more common in the very young, the elderly and those with heart, lung or other health conditions. Influenza is easily spread from person to person, and an infected person can spread the virus before they are even sick with symptoms.
Vancouver Coastal Health