October 21, 2014 - 7:25 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - While the public's attention has been on Ebola and enterovirus D68 recently, Interior Health is preparing for flu season, rolling out influenza vaccines to clinics and phamacies around the region.
Dr. Robert Parker says they start getting calls in September but early November is when they typically start offering vaccinations to the general public.
Every year the World Health Organization makes an 'educated guess' as to which strains will be most prominent during the upcoming flu season. This year the shot will focus on influenza A strains H1N1 and H3N2 as well as influenza B. While H1N1 was a pandemic strain in 2009 it is now a common strain. H3N2 is a strain that can cause more serious illness in seniors and the B strain is typically a lot harder on children.
Parker notes the few cases of flu they have seen early in the fall look to be the H3N2 strain and could be the one we see during the peak, which can occur anywhere from early fall to late winter.
“Most typically (flu season) peaks around Christmas and New Years,” he says. “It’s always hard to predict when the peak will take place. If you get the vaccines in November, it should give you protection for the peak.”
Interior Health manages 200,000 doses of the vaccine every fall and most clinics just started distributing the vaccines to clinics, doctors and pharmacies over the past week.
Over the past couple of years the number of flu shots administered has risen significantly, but Parker says that is because health care workers must now be immunized as well.
“It increased last year because of the rulings around health care worker immunization,” Parker notes. “In my 20 years in B.C. we have never run out. Anyone who wants to get a flu shot usually can, though sometimes you may need to wait a week.”
Public clinics will begin in the region as early as next week though some private pharmacies are already offering flu shots. Some people are eligible for free immunizations, including those over the age of 65, pregnant women, children 6-59 months, people with chronic health issues and health care workers.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014