A rash of influenza outbreaks in Lower Mainland residential care facilities has prompted health officials to remind people to get the flu shot.
Since December 28, Fraser Health has seen five confirmed and five suspected influenza outbreaks in residential care facilities across the region, which extends from White Rock to Hope.
Of the outbreaks, two occurred in each of New Westminster, Langley and South Delta. Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Langley and Cloverdale each had a single care facility experience a suspected or confirmed outbreak.
“In the last week, we have noticed a significant increase in influenza outbreaks across our region,” medical health officer Dr. Martin Lavoie said in a press release Thursday. “While seasonal increases in flu activity are expected, we remind people that if they have a non-emergency health concern they have many options in the community to help them avoid a trip to the emergency department to ensure emergency services are available for those who need them.”
The symptoms of an influenza infection are fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and cough. Complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, are more common in the elderly and those with heart, lung or other health conditions. Influenza is easily spread from person to person, and an infected person can spread the virus before they develop symptoms.
Flu shots are recommended for everyone six months of age and older and are available free of cost in B.C. for all children between six months and five years old, seniors 65 years old and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. People who work or live with people who have a higher risk of complications from the flu and visitors to health care facilities are also eligible for a free vaccine. Flu shots are now available at doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics and pharmacies.