Anywhere between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians are at risk of death this time of year from something that is almost entirely preventable.
While the flu virus remains a seasonal killer, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that more than seven out of 10 people who receive seasonal influenza vaccines won’t get sick.
So far on southern Vancouver Island some 90,000 people have been immunized for seasonal influenza. That number will continue to grow as immunization clinics are offered throughout the month of December.
The 2011-12 vaccine is the same as last year’s and contains three inactivated influenza strains based on recommendations from the World Health Organization. The immunization has the H1N1 strain as well as two other strains predicted to be the most common this season.
According to the Vancouver Island Health Authority, H1N1 will likely keep circulating this season, but will now behave like a typical seasonal flu virus with more predictable disease patterns and timing.
In 2009-10 when the H1N1 pandemic broke out, 240,664 H1N1 vaccines were administered, in addition to the 156,535 regular seasonal flu shots.
What’s commonly called the flu, though often confused with other viruses, is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs, caused by the influenza virus.
Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness and cough, and commonly lasts one week to 10 days.
For more information, including where to get your flu shot, visit www.viha.ca/flu.