Flu season may have peaked, but Northern Health says it’s not too late to get this year’s flu vaccine — especially in northern B.C.
Dr. Rakel Kling, the medical health officer for Northern Health, says this year’s flu shot is a good match for the strains of flu that are spreading around. The protective effects of the vaccine take about two weeks to kick in.
So far this season, over 90 per cent of the influenza A viruses typed by the BC Centre for Disease Control are a strain of H1N1, which disproportionately affects children under 10.
Elderly adults are more affected by strains of H3N2, which has been less common this year. Since October, labs have confirmed just 11 flu outbreaks in B.C. long-term care facilities, compared with 51 last year and 93 the year before.
While data from all parts of B.C. show flu season likely peaked over Christmas and New Year’s, family doctors in northern B.C. have had the highest share of flu-related patient visits than anywhere else in the province.
Islanders who would still like a flu vaccine can get one at the health clinics in the north- or south-end hospitals, and adults can also get one at the Forbes pharmacy in Queen Charlotte.
The public health nurse at the Haida Health Centre in Old Massett is away this week, but a few vaccines remain at the Skidegate Health Centre.
Northern Health reminds anyone who catches the flu to stay home from work or school — most people recover on their own at home by resting and having lots of fluids — and to practice good handwashing and coughing etiquette.
People should seek care from a doctor or nurse practitioner if they have trouble breathing, chest pain, a high fever that doesn’t improve after three or four days, or if they are at a high risk of flu-related complications.