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The Influenza Vaccine Protects Those Most Vulnerable

November 13, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

The Influenza Vaccine Protects Those Most Vulnerable

Today's blogger is Dr. Perry Kendall. He's BC's Provincial Health Officer.

He has a passion for public health and was awarded the Order of British Columbia for his contributions to Public Health practice and to harm reduction policy and practice in BC.

Thanks for joining us Dr. Kendall!

In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of getting ready to fight the flu this season and how being prepared can help those at risk of complications stave off serious illness. This time, I wanted to talk a bit more about those who are most susceptible to complications from influenza viruses.

Many with heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cystic fibrosis or other conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes or those with neuromuscular disorders can suffer complications from the flu.

The flu usually means a few days of bed rest and a lingering feeling of fatigue and stuffy nose. For those whose immune systems are compromised, like those in hospitals or residential care, the complications can be far worse including pneumonia or even death. More importantly perhaps, influenza is a significant cause of loss of independence in older people. The elderly among us may never fully recover from the flu.

To help protect patients from the effects of the flu, health authorities have decided that, like health care workers, anyone visiting someone in a health care facility will be expected to wear a mask if they haven’t been vaccinated. That means if you know you’ll be visiting a loved one in a hospital or long-term care facility you are asked to get vaccinated beforehand or be prepared to wear a mask during the visit if you don’t want to get the flu shot. Visitors and caregivers are eligible for free vaccine.

For those already battling a chronic or acute condition, the flu can be deadly. Fortunately, flu shots are able to substantially reduce the risk. It is also important remember to wash your hands to help reduce germs, and stay home if you are sick, to avoid spreading illness. This is about working together to protect those we care about – those most vulnerable to complications from the flu.

To find your nearest flu clinic, check the province's flu clinic locator at Flu shots are also available at your family physician or local public health clinic. Specially licensed pharmacists are also able to provide flu shots; however, they are not able to immunize children under five.

Photo: iStockphoto

Related Blogs:

Flu Season is Here

The Influenza Vaccine Protects Children

Physical Activity During Cold and Flu Season



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