North Okanagan residents are being urged to roll up a sleeve and get their flu vaccination.

North Okanagan residents are being urged to roll up a sleeve and get their flu vaccination.

Flu immunization clinics get underway

Public flu clinics will begin in some communities the week of Oct. 15.

Flu season is approaching and public health nurses are gearing up for the launch of this year’s vaccination campaign.

Public flu clinics will begin in some communities the week of Oct. 15.

“There are many myths and misconceptions about the flu shot so it’s important for people to get accurate information to help them stay healthy,” said Dr. Rob Parker, Interior Health Authority medical health officer.

“For example, the flu shot cannot give you the flu. The vaccine used in B.C. contains dead influenza viruses that cannot cause infection.”

Influenza is a highly contagious infection and can be very serious, especially for those with heart, lung and other health problems. In years when influenza is widespread in B.C., hundreds of people may die from influenza or its complications, such as pneumonia.

“The two most important ways to protect yourself from getting the flu are to wash your hands frequently and get your flu shot,” said Parker.

“Flu vaccinations are a proven, safe and effective way to reduce your chances of getting the flu. The flu shot also lessens the severity of symptoms for those who do get the flu.”

In B.C. the flu vaccine is free for:

*People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts

*All children age 6 to 59 months of age

*Household contacts and caregivers of infants age 0 to 59 months of age

*Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts

*Aboriginal people

*Children (6 months to 18 years) with conditions treated for long periods of time with Aspirin® or ASA and their household contacts

*Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities

*Pregnant women who will be in their third trimester during influenza season and their household contacts (pregnant women who are in other high risk groups can be immunized at any time during the pregnancy)

*People who are very obese

*Health care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who are capable of transmitting influenza disease to those at high risk of influenza complications

*People who provide essential community services (first responders, corrections workers)

*People who work with live poultry and/or swine

People not eligible for the free flu vaccine through the publicly-funded program should contact their physician, local pharmacy, walk-in clinic, travel clinic or private provider.

To find a flu vaccination clinic near you, watch for local announcements in the North Okanagan or visit the IHA website at www.interiorhealth.ca.