Interior residents advised to get their flu shots | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior residents advised to get their flu shots

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Get ready to roll up your sleeves and get a needle stuck in your arm – flu season is fast approaching.

A total of 240,000 doses of this year’s vaccine are on the way from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to pharmacies, doctors and other health care providers throughout the Interior Health Authority region.

“While it is hard to predict what the upcoming flu season will look like, in the southern hemisphere, influenza activity has been lower and later in the season compared to their last (2017) season,” Interior Health communications consultant Karl Hardt said in an email.

While some pharmacies already have the vaccines, an Interior Health press release states that they will not be available until Nov. 1. Hardt said that’s to make sure the vaccines retain their effectiveness through the whole flu season. There will be staggered shipments of the vaccines though early November.

“After two years of intense H3N2 virus, we’re expecting to see increased H1N1 activity this year,” Hardt said.

There are actually four different vaccines being shipped. One is a nasal spray while others are for different ages or for people with certain sensitivities. But all are effective against the H1N1 strain.

“The flu shot is safe, easy to get, and free for those at risk and their loved ones,” states an Interior Health press release. “The people at the greatest risk of influenza-related complications are adults and children with underlying health conditions, residents of long-term care homes and other chronic-care facilities, people 65 years of age and older, children under 60 months of age, pregnant women, and Aboriginal peoples."

“Influenza is a serious and contagious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization and, in severe cases, death,” Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema said in the release.

“The infection spreads when a person comes into contact with droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of influenza may include fever, aches, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, a runny nose, sore throat, and cough.

“People often confuse influenza with the common cold, but they are not the same and are caused by different viruses. A cold is usually a milder illness that can make you uncomfortable for a few days. In contrast, flu symptoms are more debilitating, and potentially life threatening to those at risk of complications.”

The most recent B.C. Coronors Service statistics are from 2012 and show two deaths each in the Central Okanagan and the Kamloops health areas out of 14 for all of B.C. that year.

Frequent hand washing will help reduce the spread of germs along with coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue. Infected people are advised to stay home.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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