Influenza season is just around the corner and there’s no better time than now to make a plan to stay healthy. You know the routine: wash your hands frequently, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. But did you know that the single best way to protect yourself and others from the seasonal flu is by getting a flu shot?
Influenza or “the flu” is an infection of the upper airway caused by the influenza virus. It spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, face-to-face contact and by touching articles such as door knobs and telephones that have been contaminated with the influenza virus. So, if you think you have the flu, stay home to avoid sharing the virus with others. The flu can be deadly to some people.
The flu vaccine is safe and easy to get. It is available for free through the publicly funded program for those at risk and their household contacts. People who are eligible for free flu vaccine include those 65 years of age and older, people with chronic health conditions, caregivers of those at risk and other at risk groups, including young children and pregnant women.
This year’s flu vaccine contains the same virus strains as last year. But don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need to get the flu vaccine this year if you got it last year. Protection from a flu shot decreases over time so it’s important to boost your protection by getting the flu shot every year.
Public Health nurses will be providing free flu vaccine to those who are eligible at community flu clinics. To find a clinic near you, watch for local announcements on dates and times, contact your local Public Health office or visit our website at www.interiorhealth.ca.
Many physician offices and pharmacies also provide the vaccine for free to those who are eligible. People who are not eligible for free flu vaccine can still get vaccinated at most pharmacies, doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics, and travel clinics for a small fee.
For more Information visit the ImmunizeBC website at www.immunizebc,ca or HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc.ca. You can also call the HealthLink at by dialling 811.
Joanne Smrek is a Clinical Resource Co-ordinator for Vaccine Promotion and Education with Interior Health.