Get vaccinated, says doctor

  • Oct. 23, 2009 5:00 p.m.

The dominant strain of flu this year will be H1N1, and people should get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, says Northern Health’s chief medical health officer Dr. David Bowering. The vaccine will be arriving in northern BC in late October or early November and Northern Health will be widely publicizing how to get it, Dr. Bowering said. He also urged anyone with symptoms of flu, like cough, fever, muscle aches and headaches, to stay home. The symptoms of H1N1, also known as swine flu, are not much different from seasonal flu, he said. “It’s a relatively mild disease and that’s partly why it has spread so rapidly around the world,” he said. “We can’t stop this virus from spreading, but we’d like to keep it as slow as possible until we get the vaccine.” As of last week, there had been no cases confirmed on Haida Gwaii, but Dr. Bowering said that doesn’t mean it’s not here. Northern Health can only keep track of cases where the person was sick enough to go to a doctor and was tested for H1N1. Cases have been confirmed in Prince George, Fort St. John and Burns Lake. So far, the people who have tested positive for H1N1 in the north are all under the age of 65. Half are men and half are women. Dr. Bowering said the north has not seen the high rates of school absenteeism that some parts of southern BC have seen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. “I think we’re just at the beginning of a fairly intense flu season,” he said. “Hopefully it will be mild.”