Northern Health asks visitors without a current flu shot to wear a mask

Some surgical masks come with a sense of humour. (Neys Fadzil/Flickr)

Some surgical masks come with a sense of humour. (Neys Fadzil/Flickr)

Anyone who hasn’t got this year’s flu shot is now asked to wear a surgical mask when visiting Northern Health hospitals or clinics.

The new policy took effect Dec. 1 and will last until the end of flu season, which is usually the end of March. It is part of a province-wide strategy to stop the spread of flu and protect vulnerable patients from what could be a deadly infection.

“Patients and clients in hospitals and long-term care facilities often have weakened immune systems that put them at greater risk of serious complications from influenza,” said Dr. Sandra Allison, chief medical health officer for Northern Health, in a press release.

“The best way to protect not only yourself but the people around you is to get a flu shot, even if you’re normally a healthy individual.”

Visitors who aren’t immunized can pick up a surgical mask from a nursing station or reception desk.

Free flu shots are available for visitors, as well as for children from six months to five years old, seniors 65 and older, Aboriginal people, people with chronic illness, or those who live with people at heightened risk of problems from flu.

The new policy also applies to doctors, staff, students and volunteers who work at Northern Health clinics and hospitals.