Province urges everyone to get flu vaccine

The flu causes more deaths than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined, says provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, urging everyone to get a flu shot this season.

“The flu can be a serious disease and is highly contagious,” said Kendall.

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Today, the province unveiled its influenza program, announcing the influenza vaccine will be available throughout the province by early November at public health clinics, physicians’ offices, travel clinics and pharmacies.

The flu shot is free in B.C. to people at risk from complications, and their close contacts including: Children between six months and five years; seniors 65 and older; pregnant women; aboriginal people; individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems; anyone who lives with any of these people; and visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals.

Each year, about 3,500 Canadians die from influenza and its complications across Canada, says the B.C. Health Ministry.

Health authority employees, students, physicians, residents, contractors, vendors, volunteers and visitors to health-care facilities must be immunized by Dec. 1 or wear a mask in patient-care areas.

To find the nearest flu shot clinic, you can call HealthLink B.C. at 811 or visit an “influenza clinic finder” at immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu#8/49.246/-123.116

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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