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Get your flu shot early & protect the ones you love

October 23, 2017

Vancouver Island – Island Health is reminding people to get their flu shot early to protect themselves and their loved ones this flu season.


Vaccines are available from a pharmacist or physician at many convenient locations. Families with children can also get their flu shot at a public health clinic.

Free flu vaccines are provided to children aged six months to five years of age, seniors 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and Aboriginal people, people at high risk of complications from influenza and their close contacts, and many other eligible groups.

“Planning ahead and getting your flu shot early is an important way to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially those who are vulnerable to complications of influenza,” said Dr. Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer for Island Health. “Many people are finding pharmacists and pharmacy flu clinics a convenient choice for getting their flu shot.”

Find a pharmacy or community vaccine provider in your community
• Visit Immunize BC’s Influenza Clinic Locator
• Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1
• Contact your family doctor

In addition to visiting a pharmacist or physician, children, youth and their caregivers are invited to get vaccinated at a public health clinic. Public health clinics will focus on providing the flu vaccine to families with children as current regulations prevent pharmacists from immunizing children under age 5.

“Families with children and youth have the additional option of getting immunized at a public health clinic,” Dr. Hoyano said. “Influenza spreads easily, often before you feel any symptoms. The earlier you can get the vaccine, the better your family will be protected.”

Public health flu clinics
• Visit islandfluclinics.ca to find a public health flu clinic near you.
• Call one of our telephone hotlines for more information:
         Nanaimo/Ladysmith/Gabriola: 250-740-6947
         Courtenay/Comox Valley: 250-331-8599
         Campbell River and area: 250-850-2120
         Mt. Waddington/Port Hardy: 250-902-6079
         South Island: 250-544-7676 local 27545
• In all other areas, residents can find local flu information by phone by contacting their local public health unit office.

What should I bring?
Please bring your CareCard or other government I.D. (valid driver’s license) to any location that provides the flu vaccine, and remember to wear a short sleeved shirt. Be sure to check ahead with you vaccine provider for further details.

Am I eligible?
Find out if you are eligible for the free flu vaccine at viha.ca/flu. If you are not eligible, you may receive a flu vaccine for a nominal cost through your family doctor or pharmacist.

The following groups are eligible for free flu shots:
• People 65 and older and their caregivers
• Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household 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 five 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)
• Visitors to health care facilities

For more information about the influenza vaccine, visit immunizebc.ca  or call 8-1-1 to speak to a health professional at HealthLinkBC.

Influenza (the flu) is among the top ten leading causes of death in Canada, causing over 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually. The flu is an infection of the upper airway (nose and throat) caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and cough. The term "flu" is often used to describe other illnesses, such as a cold or stomach virus. However, flu symptoms are usually prolonged and more severe than a cold and do not include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The flu virus spreads between people through breathing, coughing and sneezing. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against the flu, and compliments other prevention measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick.

Island Health, one of six health jurisdictions in British Columbia, provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River.

With more than 20,000 staff, 1,900 physician partners, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.
 
Central/North Island media inquiries
Adrienne Breen
250.739.6980
Adrienne.breen@viha.ca

South Island media inquiries:
Meribeth Burton
250.519.1815
Meribeth.burton@viha.ca