Flu vaccines are being offered through local pharmacies this year, and are free to almost all British Columbians. (Photo credit: neelam279/Pixabay)

Flu vaccines are being offered through local pharmacies this year, and are free to almost all British Columbians. (Photo credit: neelam279/Pixabay)

No Interior Health flu clinics planned for Ashcroft or Cache Creek

Bulk of this year’s flu vaccines have been shipped to pharmacies for administering

Interior Health (IH) is calling on everyone to protect themselves and increase immunity in our communities by getting their annual influenza (flu) vaccine. New this year, the influenza vaccine (flu shot) is available free of charge to everyone six months of age and older, at pharmacies and clinics throughout the region.

In the past, IH has run drop-in flu shot clinics in area communities at this time of year, but cancelled them last year because of concerns about the COVID-19 virus. Pharmacies stepped in to provide the service, and the same system is in place this year, with most of the available flu vaccines having been shipped to pharmacies.

IH is not planning any flu vaccine clinics in Ashcroft or Cache Creek at this time. However, the public health unit at the Ashcroft Hospital and Health Site is taking appointments for families with children under the age of 13; call (250) 453-2211 to book. The influenza vaccine is also available through your community health-care provider or a First Nations community health nurse.

Ashcroft IDA Pharmacy is booking appointments for every weekday except Wednesdays, when walk-ins will be allowed from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To book an appointment, call (250) 453-2553.

“Everyone is at risk of influenza and spreading it to others, and as we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19, we encourage all British Columbians to get immunized,” says Dr. Sue Pollock, Interior Health interim chief medical health officer. “Now that the influenza vaccine is available at no cost to everyone who wants one, there’s no better time.”

Getting your influenza vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from illness this winter. It is also a critical step in keeping the spread of influenza low in the community and through our health system. Last year, public health measures including handwashing, mask use, and physical distancing put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 also helped stop the spread of influenza, with the BC Centre for Disease Control reporting in January 2021 that there was “no indication” of influenza virus circulation in B.C. The BCCDC also noted that “Elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, influenza virus detection remains exceptionally low.”

The same trend was observed in other countries, with health experts noting that restrictions on international travel last winter also played a part in curbing flu transmission. Flu typically travels around the world from one country’s winter season to another’s, but with comparatively few people travelling, the flu virus was unable to spread as normal.

Contrary to what some people believe, the flu shot cannot cause the flu. A former Ashcroft pharmacist notes that “It’s a totally inactive virus, not live. It can cause an immune response that makes you feel a little under the weather, so you can get a mild fever or a runny nose for a few days as an immune response, but it’s not full-on influenza.

“Sometimes you get unlucky and get the flu right after you’ve had the shot, and if you get exposed to the flu within a couple of days of getting the shot your immune system hasn’t built its response yet.”

While influenza can make anyone sick, some people are at increased risk of severe disease and complications, including children under five years of age; people who are pregnant, Aboriginal, or over the age of 65 years; and those with underlying chronic health conditions.

People booking a flu shot should bring their Care Card or a piece of ID with their name and birth date on it. Allow half-an-hour for the shot, including a 15-minute wait after getting the vaccine.


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