Get your flu shot, or wear a mask when visiting patients, says health authority 

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If you didn't get the flu shot yet this year, you are going to have to don a mask when visiting at Squamish General Hospital or Hilltop House.

In fact, visitors to all Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) facilities are being asked to wear a surgical mask if they haven't received their annual flu shot.

The move is part of the provincial government's strategy to prevent the spread of influenza and protect vulnerable patients from a potentially fatal infection, according to a news release from VCH.

"The flu can be devastating for our patients because many have chronic health problems including weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to serious illness," said VCH's medical health officer Dr. Meena Dawar, in a news release. "The best way to protect your loved ones in hospital is to get a flu shot, even if you're normally a healthy individual. The shot will not only protect you from getting the flu, but also the people around you."

The policy will be in place until the end of the flu season, which typically is at the end of March.

Flu shots for visitors are free from a family doctor, walk-in clinics or local pharmacies.

For those who forgo the shot, surgical masks are available at the nursing station or outpatient reception desk.

For more on the flu shot — including where to else to get one and how to get it for free — go to www.vch.ca/public-health/communicable-diseases-immunizations/flu-shots-flu-clinics.

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