Lucas Breen, 11, is inoculated against this season’s flu strains by Kait Zayonc, registered nurse with Island Health. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Island Health has thousands and thousands of doses of flu vaccine

Medical health officer says the communicable disease accounts for hospitalizations and deaths

Island Health has now posted schedules for anyone who has been poking around looking information about upcoming flu vaccination clinics.

The information was released at a media event Tuesday at the Nanaimo Public Health Unit where Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer for central Vancouver Island, explained the options available for getting vaccinations and who should be vaccinated.

“You can often get the vaccine from a pharmacist or a physician, particularly for those persons who are on medication on a regular basis,” Hasselback said. “But when we start looking at children, particularly those under the age of five, they do need to come into a public health setting and at that point we’ll also immunize the family members that are living with the individual.”

Vaccines are not given to children under six months of age, but basically everyone can get a flu vaccination except people who have been medically assessed as having a severe anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine.

Hasselback said anyone over 65 should be vaccinated and anyone aged six months to 65 years old who lives with them should also be vaccinated to provide additional protection from the influenza virus.

He said there is no shortage of vaccine.

“We’re getting 260,000 doses as our initial order. That’s staged over a period of time,” he said. “Sometimes there are delays coming from the manufacturer into the province and from that distribution. We have seen a few of those delays. We should see all of that vaccine here by mid November.”

Island Health is encouraging people to get vaccinated before then if possible, but vaccine will be given out well into the flu season.

Hasselback went on to say this year’s vaccine will be effective against the H3N2 strain that cropped up in the southern hemisphere in early 2019 and overall he expects the upcoming flu season in the Island region will be about average.

“One has to remember, in an average year, that its still the communicable disease that causes the most number of hospitalizations, fatalities and it’s an absolute tragedy even when we’re talking about an average year,” he said.

Nanaimo’s first vaccine clinic for the season is being held Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Nanaimo Public Health Unit, located at 1665 Grant Ave. For more information about flu vaccines for healthy adults and seniors, visit www.islandhealth.ca/flu.

The schedule for Island Health public flu clinics for children, youth and their caregivers is also online at www.islandfluclinics.ca/.



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Island Health has received 260,000 doses of influenza vaccine, which are available at flu vaccination clinics that began in Nanaimo Thursday, Nov. 7. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Island Health has received 260,000 doses of influenza vaccine, which are available at flu vaccination clinics that began in Nanaimo Thursday, Nov. 7. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Kait Zayonc, a registered nurse with Island Health, inoculates Michael Breen against this season’s influenza strains. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

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