Monday, October 27, 2014

Get Poked, Save Lives

It's that time again... the season when we all start getting runny noses, coughs, and the influenza virus starts rearing its ugly head. Time to roll up your sleeve and get poked--avoid contracting and spreading the flu by having your annual influenza immunization.

A few facts about the flu: (source)
  • Getting sick with influenza also puts you at risk of other infections, including viral or bacterial pneumonia. 
  • The risk of complications, which can be life-threatening, is greater for seniors 65 years and older, very young children, and people who have lung or heart diseases, certain chronic health conditions, or weakened immune systems. Think about all the people in your family and your circle of friends: how many of them fall into the above categories?
  • Healthy pregnant women in the second half of their pregnancy are at greater risk of being hospitalized following infection with influenza virus.
  • In Canada, over 5000 people were hospitalized with influenza and more than 325 people died from influenza and its complications during last year's flu season alone. (source)

The best ways to reduce the risk of getting influenza or spreading it to others are: (source)
  • washing your hands regularly;
  • promptly disposing of used tissues in the waste basket or garbage;
  • coughing and sneezing into your shirt sleeve rather than your hands (aka "The Vampire Cough);
  • staying home when you are ill; and
  • getting an influenza vaccine.

If that doesn't convince you, watch this.

You can get your shot from:
  • your family doctor; 
  • a walk-in clinic;
  • your pharmacist
  • VCH Public Health clinic
Clinics at pharmacies are listed on ImmunizeBC's map or find the closest VCH Public Health Clinic.

You can get your seasonal flu shot for free if you are:
  • 65 years and older or their caregivers/household contact;
  • Resident of a nursing homes or other chronic care facility;
  • Living with a chronic health condition, including obesity, or their household contact;
  • A child or adolescent (six months to 18 years) with conditions treated for long periods of time with acetylsalicylic acid, or their household contact;
  • A healthy child age six months to five years of age
  • A household contact or caregiver of infants age zero to 59 months;
  • An aboriginal person (on and off reserve);
  • A pregnant women or their household contact;
  • A health care or other care provider in facilities and community settings who is capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of influenza complications;
  • A person who provides essential services including first responders and correction officers;
  • A person who works with live poultry;
  • Someone planning to visit loved ones in a health care facility or who will take family members to outpatient appointments.

FYI: If your children are afraid of needles, this year FluMist, a nasal flu spray vaccine, will be available free of charge as an alternative for children and youth aged two to 17 years old.

For more info & updates, follow Vancouver Coastal Health on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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