It’s still worth getting a flu shot even though the height of the current flu season probably occurred around the end of December and beginning of January.
“It would be worthwhile if you haven’t already had a shot,” said Dr. Peter Barss, medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority.
He said this flu season is a fairly typical one, with possibly higher numbers of cases than the average.
Within the Interior Health Authority area, the number of immunizations is also similar to previous years.
This year 62,000 shots have been administered by public health nurses.
By the time the immunizations given by pharmacists and physicians are reported, the number should be close to last year’s total of about 70,000.
He recommends flu shots for anyone at risk for serious illness, such as those with heart or lung problems, as well as people taking care of them or living with them.
In fact, he said anyone is welcome to get a flu shot, available under B.C. Medical Services Plan for those at risk and their caregivers, and for a fee for others.
The shots are available at public health offices, doctors offices, pharmacies and some workplaces.
Barss says tests have shown that people are infected this year with an A strain of influenza as well as the H3N2 strain.
This year’s shots immunize against those strains.
The flu virus changes from year to year as it adapts to the human body, and developers of the vaccine try to predict which strains will be prevalent during each flu season.
Besides immunization, Barss has other recommendations to prevent the spread of flu, which tends to happen when people are crowded together indoors.
“Don’t cough in somebody’s face,” he said.
Instead, a flu sufferer should direct a cough into a tissue or sleeve.
People should wash their hands frequently, especially after touching common items such as doorknobs.