January 03, 2014 - 5:32 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - So far, Interior Health is aware of 15 documented cases of people with the H1N1 strain of the influenza virus and they recommend you get vaccinated.
Medical health officer Dr. Sue Pollock said 30 people in B.C.'s interior have been diagnosed with having influenza and about half of those are H1N1 cases. The strong version of the virus is also this year's predominant influenza strain.
She added those numbers could go up. More people travel around this time of the year to see family and friends. Health officials expect the number of cases to peak sometime in the near future.
Pollock said this year's vaccinations have been prepared to immunize people against H1N1. Viruses are known to mutate but the current flu shot is still the best protection.
She added B.C. people with H1N1 infections have had it easier than those who contracted the virus in Alberta. The B.C. cases have been less severe where in Alberta, the virus has killed at least five people and infected roughly a thousand others.
Pollock said if a person does come down with influenza of any type they should stay at home. Sufferers can expect fever, coughing and muscle aches. They should wash their hands often and cough and sneeze into their sleeves. Those who have influenza or who suspect they have it should wear surgical masks when visiting the hospital or other care facilities.
Free vaccinations are available if a person is under five years of age, have chronic health problems or are 65 years of age or over. Pregnant women are also eligible for free shots. Immunize B.C. has more information and a map of available immunization locations. Alternatively call 811 for HealthLink B.C.
Pollock said it is not too late to get the vaccine but recommends sooner than later. It takes about two weeks for the injected human body to prepare itself against H1N1.
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