Submitted by Interior Health

Interior Health is gearing up to help protect children, pregnant women, seniors, people with chronic illnesses and others who are most at risk from influenza and its complications.

In a typical influenza season, thousands of Canadians develop serious illness or even die from influenza or its complications. The flu shot is a safe and effective way to help people stay healthy, prevent illness and save lives.

Many people incorrectly use the term flu to refer to any illness caused by a virus, such as the stomach flu or the common cold. However, influenza tends to be more severe. Influenza reduces the bodys ability to fight illnesses and infections and it can also increase a persons risk for developing other serious conditions, including viral or bacterial pneumonia, said Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, Medical Health Officer. Getting a flu shot and washing your hands frequently are the two most effective ways to protect yourself and others from influenza and its complications.

The flu shot provides protection from the influenza virus strains expected to be circulating this season based on trends worldwide. This years flu shot offers protection against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2 virus) and one influenza B virus. For those under 18, the preferred vaccine also protects against an additional B influenza virus.

The flu shot is free for those at risk of complications from influenza and those in contact with people at risk. Interior Health holds public clinics for those who are eligible for the free flu shot. Public clinics will start in some communities the week of October 27th. To find a flu shot clinic or provider near you, watch for local announcements on dates and times in your community, contact your local public health centre or visit the Influenza Clinic Locator (http://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu) on the ImmunizeBC website. For more information visit our website at www.interiorhealth.ca.