The Flu is here. Make protecting your community from the flu your New Year’s resolution

December 29, 2017

ISLAND WIDE – As we welcome 2018, confirmed outbreaks of Influenza A are appearing in long-term care facilities in the Nanaimo-Parksville area. Also, there are sporadic laboratory reports of people in communities throughout Vancouver Island with confirmed cases of the flu.

While the flu is often a short-term inconvenience for healthy people, it is among the leading causes of death in Canada*. If you are ill, please do not visit hospitals, residential care or assisted living facilities.

“During the flu season, demand on emergency rooms and hospitals increases,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health Medical Health Officer. “Do not use emergency services for health care needs that can be met by your physician or at walk-in clinics.”

While Island Health strives to maintain regular hospital schedules, disruptions due to high demand may occur.

Take steps to protect yourself and others from the flu and other seasonal respiratory viruses:

• Wash your hands frequently after touching people or surfaces. Use soap and water and/or alcohol-based sanitizers.
• Stay home when you're sick or have flu symptoms. Keep   children home from school when they are ill.
• Cough or sneeze into your upper arm or use a tissue, not your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• And it’s not too late to get a flu shot!

Visitors and staff at Island Health facilities who are not vaccinated must wear a mask.

Immunization is the best form of protection, but not everyone is able to get vaccinated. From December to March, visitors to hospitals and health care facilities who are not vaccinated must protect their loved ones and staff and medical staff by wearing a mask in patient care areas. Look for masks near main entrances, hand washing stations or at reception and admitting.

Find a vaccine provider in your community

Vaccines are available from a pharmacist or physician at many convenient locations. Visit Immunize BC’s Influenza Clinic Locator, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or contact your family doctor for more information. Find out if you are eligible for the free flu vaccine at viha.ca/flu

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

*According to Health Canada, influenza (the flu) is among the leading causes of death in Canada, causing over 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually. The influenza virus spreads through breathing, coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. 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.

Island Health, one of seven 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.

Media Inquiries:

Meribeth Burton
Media Relations