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Don't wait to get armed against the flu

October 21, 2016

Did you know that influenza causes more deaths than any other vaccine-preventable illness in Canada? Arm yourself against influenza – plan ahead and get your flu shot early. Doctors, pharmacies and Island Health Public Health Units will be providing free flu shots to people at high risk of complications from influenza, their close contacts, and many other eligible groups.  Free immunization clinics offered by Island Health’s Public Health Units will begin the first week of November.

For up-to-date information about Island Health’s Public Health flu clinic dates and times, Island residents can visit www.islandfluclinics.ca. This online tool allows you to search for clinics by date and/or location.

“Information on free public health vaccination clinic dates and times is also available on the Island Health website www.viha.ca/flu, and by phone,” said Dr. Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer for Island Health. “Planning ahead and getting your flu shot early is an important way to protect yourself and the people in your life who are vulnerable to complications of influenza.”

Most clinics are offered on a drop-in basis with no appointment necessary. Residents are encouraged to check ahead at www.islandfluclinics.ca for further details.  Please bring your CareCard or other government I.D. (valid driver’s license) to the clinic, and remember to wear a short-sleeved shirt. 

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,” Dr. Hoyano said. “Influenza is easily transmitted from person-to-person, even before you show symptoms.”

Those who are not eligible for the free vaccine are encouraged to get vaccinated by their family physician or pharmacist for a nominal cost. 

For more information about the influenza vaccine, visit http://immunizebc.ca  or call 811 to speak to a health professional at HealthLinkBC.

Telephone hotlines have been established for free Island Health Public Health clinic dates and times in the following Island communities for people who wish to access information via telephone.

Nanaimo/Ladysmith/Gabriola     250-740-6947
Courtenay/Comox Valley            250-331-8599
Campbell River & Area                250-850-2120
Mt. Waddington/Port Hardy        250-902-6079

In all other areas, residents can find local flu information by phone by contacting their local public health unit office.

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

Central/North Island media inquiries:
Valerie Wilson
Director, Communications and Engagement
250.739.6303
valerie.wilson@viha.ca

South Island media inquiries:
Kellie Hudson
Media Relations Manager
250.370.8908
kellie.hudson@viha.ca