Flu season has arrived with eight confirmed cases this week, seven requiring hospitalization, says Island Health.
Medical health officer Dr. Dee Hoyano said the seven people requiring hospitalization varied in age and included one child.
“The majority were hospitalized for a few days and then sent home,” Hoyano said. “Two required intensive care unit treatment. One young child, under age five and one adult.”
Tests have shown that at least two cases are of the H1N1 strain. Results for the other cases are expected soon.
Hoyano said this year’s flu started slightly earlier than normal and recommends everyone to get the influenza vaccine, even those who have received the H1N1 vaccination in the past.
“Unfortunately immunity wares over time,” Hoyano said. “We encourage people to get an influenza shot every year.”
This year’s vaccine will protect people from three types of influenzas, H1N1, H3N2 and the new one this year, the B/Massachusetts strain.
Symptoms of influenza are typically a fever with sudden onset, along with acute cough, headache, aches, pains, fatigue and weakness. The risk of complications from influenza is greater for seniors, very young children and people with lung or heart diseases, certain chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.
Flu shots are free in B.C. for all children aged six months to five years of age, seniors 65 and older, pregnant women, Aboriginals and individuals with chronic health conditions, compromised immune systems, or those who work or live with individuals with a higher risk of complications from the flu.
To find the nearest flu shot clinic, call HealthLink BC at 811 or visit www.immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu.