While many people think they won’t get the flu this season, the message the Interior Health Authority is sending is to consider those around you.
The first local flu clinic takes place Wednesday, October 19 in Edgewater, and the Invermere clinic follows next week on the 26th.
“We generally encourage healthy people to get the shot, to protect the ones around them,” said public health nurse Brenda Marsman. “Don’t just think about your health, but also consider protecting the health of the community.”
The flu generally hits those with weak immune systems the hardest. The demographic that falls into this category are the elderly and young children, meaning there is extra incentive to protect those most vulnerable members of the community. All forms of influenza are highly contagious, and are the leading cause of preventable death due to infectious disease in Canada.
“We’d love to see as many people as possible,” Marsman said. “If you miss a clinic, you can call and set up an appointment for later in the season as well.”
Flu season generally runs from around December to March. Those eligible for the free clinics include:
• People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts
• Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
• Children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) with conditions treated for long periods of time with Acetylsalicylic acid and their household contacts
• Adults who are very obese
• Aboriginal people
• Healthy children 6 to 23 months, as well as household contacts and caregivers of infants 0 to 23 months
• Pregnant women who will be in their third trimester during influenza season and their household contacts
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
• Health care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who are capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of influenza complication
• People who work with live poultry and/or swine
For those not eligible for the free clinics, many pharmacies, private travel clinics and doctors’ offices can provide the shot for a nominal fee.
Those who should not get the shot include people with severe egg allergies and children under 6 months of age.
The best ways to protect yourself and those around you are to get the flu vaccine, wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially after coughing and sneezing, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue, and stay home if you are sick. If your children are sick with the flu, keep them home from daycares and schools.