Public health clinics, pharmacies and doctors across Vancouver Island will be providing free flu shots to people at high risk of complications from influenza and their close contacts as well as other vulnerable groups.
Public Health clinics open starting the week of Oct. 28. Check with your local public health unit for details or online at viha.ca/flu.
“People who are at high-risk can suffer severe complications or even death from influenza,” said Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
“The most common complication, particularly for elderly people, is pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. Influenza can also lead to other complications for people who have heart, lung or other health conditions.”
Also new this year is the availability of a nasal spray influenza vaccine free for eligible children aged 2 to 17.
It is the preferred vaccine for children 2 to 8 years of age because it provides better protection in young children than the inactivated influenza vaccine given by injection. It also offers the advantage of being needle-free.
Free flu shots are provided to the following groups:
• People 65 and older and their caregivers.
• Children and adults with chronic health conditions, their household and close contacts.
• Health-care workers.
• Emergency responders.
• Healthy children from six months of age to less than five years old.
• Household contacts and caregivers of children from birth to less than 5 years of age.
• Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy.
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities.
• Owners and operators of poultry farms.
• Aboriginal peoples.
• People who are very obese (those with a body mass index of 40 or greater).
• Corrections officers and inmates in provincial correctional institutions.
• Those who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons (e.g. crew on ships).
Bring your Care Card or other government I.D. to the clinic. Eligible individuals may also get their free vaccine from their doctor or pharmacy.
Even if you are a healthy adult, if you have regular contact with anyone in these high risk groups, you can help protect them by getting immunized.
Influenza is easily transmitted from person to person, even before you show symptoms. Those not eligible for the free vaccine can be vaccinated by your family physician or pharmacist for a nominal cost.
For more information about the vaccine, please go online to immunizebc.ca or call HealthLink B.C. at 8-1-1.