As people come together to celebrate the holiday season, influenza (the flu) can spread quickly so Interior Health reminds the public that it is not too late to get your flu shot.
Influenza symptoms often include sudden high fever, headache, general body aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny, stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat. In some cases, influenza can lead to more severe illness such as pneumonia and even death.
“The flu shot is the safest and most effective way to prevent influenza,” said Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, Medical Health Officer with Interior Health. “Getting a flu shot helps protect you from influenza and it also helps prevent you from spreading it to family, friends, and those who may be more vulnerable to serious complications from influenza.”
The flu shot is still available at pharmacies, physician offices and through local public health centres. To find a flu shot provider near you visit Immunize BC’s Flu Clinic locator (http://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu#8/49.246/-123.116).
“I encourage everyone to get their flu shot as soon as possible, especially those in high risk groups. Protection from influenza generally begins 10 to 14 days after immunization. Getting a flu shot now will protect you and your family over the holiday season and into the New Year”, adds Dr. Golmohammadi.
The flu shot is free for:
• seniors over 65 years of age
• children six months to 59 months of age
• Aboriginal people
• pregnant women
• people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes
• people who live with or care for people in high-risk groups
• visitors to a health care facility
For a complete list of those at risk and eligible for a free flu shot visit the Interior Health website (www.interiorhealth.ca/YourHealth/ Immunization/SeasonalFlu Campaign/Pages /default.aspx).
In addition to getting a flu shot, Dr. Golmohammadi stresses that proper hand washing and covering noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing are also important ways to prevent the spread of influenza and many other infections.
He advises that people experiencing influenza symptoms should stay home from work, school and holiday gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading infection to others.
In B.C., the majority of influenza cases occur between December to April, with the peak of activity typically occurring in January.