With the winter season fully in swing, families are settling into their cold season routines. Unfortunately for some, winter brings with it the unwelcome effects of another season – influenza season. Influenza season typically occurs between November and April every year.
Not to be confused with other respiratory or stomach illnesses that can be caught at this time of the year, influenza is a serious infection that can result in severe illness causing hospitalization or even death (from complications). Especially at risk are those over 65, all children under the age of two, and individuals with certain health conditions.
Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and touching items infected with the virus. People often spread influenza before they realize they are sick.
The good news is that the risk of influenza can be greatly reduced with a safe and effective vaccine. Influenza vaccine is recommended for those who are in at-risk groups, and provided free of charge.
If you?re not at risk, think about those around you who are. By getting the vaccine, you can help protect your loved ones from the virus and any possible complications. For example, infants less than six months of age have immune systems that are too immature to gain protection from the influenza vaccine.
This makes it even more important for family members and child care providers to get immunized in order to prevent spreading the virus to these vulnerable children.
If you haven?t been immunized, free influenza vaccine is still available, for those who are eligible, from your local health unit (or family doctor in some areas). Those not eligible for free vaccine can purchase it through private clinics and some doctors? offices.
Please contact your local public health unit or family doctor if you have questions or to enquire about an immunization appointment or drop in clinic times. You can also speak with a registered nurse at HealthLinkBC (dial 811). For more information on influenza and at-risk groups, visit: * Northern Health at ww.northernhealth.ca
* HealthLinkBC at ww.healthlinkbc.ca
* ImmunizeBC at ww.immunizebc.ca