Influenza cases reported in the Northeast: NH renews call for at-risk people across the region to get free

Northern Health has recorded four confirmed cases of influenza A in the region?s Northeast Health Services Delivery Area. So public health officials are reminding residents at risk to get their free influenza vaccine this season.

?We?ve had those cases of influenza A reported in the Northeast. We?ve also recorded higher than normal school absentee rates in the Northeast due to influenza-like illness. These are clear signals that the influenza season is here in our region. Free influenza vaccine is still available, so we urge people get their immunization? especially for people in at-risk groups,? said Dr. Charl Badenhorst, Northern Health?s Northeast medical health officer.

Every year, about 17 per cent of Canadians will be infected with influenza. Influenza symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Although colds and other viruses may cause similar symptoms, influenza symptoms tend to be worse.

About 4,500 people across the country will die from influenza. Those most at risk of influenza and pneumonia (a serious complication of influenza) include the very young, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.

The influenza vaccine is free for people in high-risk categories, which include:

?People 65 years of age and older;

?Residents of long-term care facilities;

?People with chronic diseases;

?Children from six to 23 months old;

?Household and child care contacts

of children up to 23 months old;

?Health care workers; and

?First responders such as police officers,

fire-fighters, and ambulance attendants.

Free influenza vaccine is available from you local health unit or family doctor for those in high-risk groups. People who don?t quality for a free influenza immunization can buy the vaccine through many local pharmacies and private clinics.