Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder, is advising everyone who has not had their flu shot to do so as soon as possible.
Over the last two weeks Fraser Health has seen several severe cases of the H1N1 strain pop up in B.C., which mirrors the pattern seen in Alberta, Ontario and Texas.
There are currently more than a dozen ventilated patients with the H1N1 disease in intensive care units across the health region. Fraser Health says these patients are not the very elderly, but are adults across the age spectrum, some in their early 30s. There are also patients who are pregnant, and others who suffer from chronic illnesses.
“We are seeing small pockets of very severe disease,” says Buynder. “The care available to patients through the support of our intensive care staff is exceptional and I am expecting all those presently on ventilators to eventually recover. If you received the 2013 influenza vaccine, you are immunized against the H1N1 strain currently circulating in our community. We are urging those who have not already had their flu shot to get one. It is not too late.”
In addition to health care workers, anyone visiting someone in a health-care facility will be expected to have been vaccinated or wear a mask to help protect those most vulnerable this influenza season.
Flu shots are offered free of charge in B.C. to a number of individuals, including children, seniors, pregnant women, Aboriginal people, individuals with chronic health conditions, and those who work or come in close contact with higher-risk groups.