Interior Health authority prepares for deadly influenza season - InfoNews

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Interior Health authority prepares for deadly influenza season

FILE PHOTO - A person gets a shot during a flu vaccine program in Calgary on Oct. 26, 2009.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
September 24, 2018 - 4:30 PM

The great purge is upon us once again, the annual influenza season that sickens and kills hundreds of Interior Health Authority residents every winter.

Public health officials have long since began preparing for the 2018-2019 flu season, monitoring the latest strains as they spread through the fall and into next winter.

Influenza viruses mutate each season and this year health authorities around the world are expecting A/Michigan H1N1, A/Singapore H3N2 plus a B/Colorado strain.

This season, the Interior Health Authority is scheduled to receive from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control 240,000 doses of four different kinds of vaccines, Fluzone, Flumist, Fluviral and Influvac, targeted at he various strains, communications officer Susan Duncan said in an email statement.

The health authority will accept delivery of staggered shipments of vaccine throughout October and into November, Duncan said.

Residential care homes, where influenza exacts its grimmest toll each winter, will be the first on the delivery list followed by First Nations, specific workplaces, physicians and pharmacists, Duncan said. The health authority doesn't record exactly how many deaths are caused by influenza in its service area but it's known to kill dozens of elderly residents of long-term care facilities each year.

Some community immunizers will likely begin offering the vaccine in mid-October, Duncan said, with public health starting its annual free vaccination campaign Nov. 1.

The health authority maintains a list of people who are eligible for a free influenza vaccine and urges those who are not covered to get it through their physician, pharmacist or travel clinic.


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John McDonald

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