Experts are warning Canadians that this year flu season could start early and hit us hard.
This year the Elk Valley Hospital and the Drugstore Pharmacy in Fernie are gearing up to help protect the community from an influenza outbreak.
The Elk Valley Hospital will be hosting a free public flu clinic on November 9 between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., while the Drugstore Pharmacy will be offering the public flu shots during their regular hours of operation, which are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We realize that there’s a greater need in the hours,” Fernie’s Drugstore Pharmacy pharmacist Ariel McLeod said. “We’re just really trying to make it accessible to whoever wants a flu shot or needs a flu shot, [so they] can get it in a timely fashion.”
The flu shot is being offered to those who are at heightened risk for contracting influenza and being affected by influenza complications. The ‘at risk’ group includes children, pregnant women, seniors and people with chronic illnesses.
Interior Health noted that influenza is a significant illness that can, at minimum, leave people affected sick for several days and, at maximum, result in death. People with influenza can easily spread the virus to others at greater risk.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it is estimated that around 3,500 Canadians die from influenza complications every year.
“Influenza reduces the body’s ability to fight illnesses and infection and it can also increase a person’s risk for developing other serious conditions, including viral or bacterial pneumonia,” Medical Health Officer Dr. Rob Parker said in a press release.
McLeod added, “By helping to prevent the spread of influenza, it helps keep the people who are really sick out of that danger zone, where they could be more susceptible to pneumonia or other secondary infections that could land them in hospital, as well as complications from the flu itself.” She went on to say, “It’s a good thing to keep the people at risk healthy as well as our general population.”
For more information visit the Interior Health website.