When public health agencies start talking flu shots you can be certain summer is over.
The Interior Health Authority began reminding the public of flu season in early October for the influenza campaign that begins Oct. 11.
According to the IHA, the flu is highly contagious and can cause severe complications for those with heart, lung and other health problems. Even if you don’t become severely ill, getting the flu can mean several missed days of school, work and other activities.
Vaccinations are a proven, safe and effective way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and the shot lessens the severity of symptoms for those who do get it, according to the IHA website.
Individuals are encouraged to get the flu shot yearly because flu virsuses change from year to year.
Each year the vaccine is updated to include the current viruses that are circulating.
This year’s vaccine contains three different strains, one of which is the pandemic strain that circulated last year: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) like virus, A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2) like virus, B/Brisbane/60/2008 (Victoria lineage) like virus.
The flu strain offered this year is the same as the one that was offered in 2010.
It includes an H1N1 strain that was used to vaccinated the global population during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
“They decided to create the flu vaccine for the next year (2010) to have that strain in there just in case that strain was kind of hanging around. They decided to have that strain this year too. They’ve stuck with exactly the same three strains as they had in last year’s strain too,” said Lyn Temple, public health nurse.
Temple says that doesn’t mean the individuals who received the flu shot last year do not need to get it this year.
“The flu vaccine only lasts about a year and those with a little less robust immune system the efficacy is even less,” Temple says.
The vaccine is considered less effective than the 70-90 per cent for people with health issues or with compromised immune systems.
The flu shot is provided free of charge to: People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts; children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts; children and adolescents (six 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 aged six to 23 months; household contacts and caregivers of infants age zero-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 complications; inmates and staff of provincial correction facilities; and people who work with live poultry or swine.
The flu shot is 70 to 90 per cent effective in preventing influenza in healthy children and adults.
People not eligible for the free vaccine through the publicly-funded program should contact their physician, local pharmacy, walk-in clinic, travel clinic or private provider.
“You have to meet the criteria but once you say you do there’s no further investigation into it at all,” Temple says.
Clinics run by public health in Williams Lake will be held in the Cariboo Bethel Church basement Nov. 1-2, and Nov. 23 from noon to 6 p.m.
No appointment is necessary; however, people with last names from A to K are encouraged to come Nov. 1; those with last names L to Z are encouraged to come Nov. 2 and the catch-up clinic which is also drop in will be held Nov. 23.