Flu vaccinations set to be available next week

Kenneth Pittman, Nick Empey / October 7, 2019

Pharmacists are getting ready with the flu vaccine

(Angelo Esslinger / Pixabay)

The start of October marks the beginning of the Flu Vaccination rollouts across the lower mainland. 

With the span of cold and rainy weather in Metro Vancouver, the flu has come prematurely according to a local pharmacist. 

“[Flu season starts] usually in the fall, once the weather starts to turn. But it has started already.” – Linda Tam, Pharmacist.

With the flu season officially underway, the Fraser Health Authority is set to begin rolling out the vaccine. Many places in the lower mainland will have the vaccine following the Thanksgiving weekend. 

Tam warns people to get the shot, regardless of how they are feeling. 

“It’s more to not only protect themselves, but to protect the people around them as well. Especially the elderly, they may not get [the flu] but they may have a spouse that is sick or having their grandchildren come to visit.”

Healthlink BC identifies seniors 65 years or older, pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, children 6 months to less than 5 years of age, and indigenous people as “high risk” demographics for the virus. 

The province of BC has also noted that those same demographics will be eligible for free vaccinations when they become available. 

Below, we outline everything you need to know about the flu. (Information courtesy of the BC CDC)

WHAT IS IT?

The flu, aka influenza, is an infection of the upper airway (e.g nose and throat).

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness and a cough. Colds and other viruses may result in the same symptoms, but flu symptoms tend to be more extreme. 

Signs and symptoms can begin about one to four days after a person is first exposed to the virus. The symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days, with the cough and weakness lasting up to a couple of more weeks. 

Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may be present in children. 

The flu can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and more complications in persons with chronic diseases.

Very young children and the elderly are the high risk demographics for the virus. 

HOW DO YOU GET IT?

The flu spreads easily from person to person through breathing, coughing, and sneezing. It can also spread when a person touches an object, and then touches their own mouth or nose before washing his or her hands.

An adult can spread the virus from about one day before to five days after symptoms start. Children can spread the virus up to 21 days after symptoms start.

PREVENTION

You can reduce the risk of catching influenza or spreading it to others, by washing your hands regularly, eating well, exercising, and getting the flu shot. 

HOW TO GET RID OF IT

If you do get sick with the flu, home treatment can help to ease symptoms. Home treatment may include:

  • Get plenty of rest. 
  • Drink plenty of extra fluids.
  • Avoid smoking/vaping nicotine products.
  • Breathe moist air from a hot shower or from a sink filled with hot water to help clear a stuffy nose.
  • Anti-influenza drugs or antivirals are available by prescription, but these must be started early. Drugs can shorten symptoms by three days. Over-the-counter medications can also help relieve symptoms such as pain and fever.