October 27, 2016 12:02 am

‘Tis the season to get your flu shot

WATCH ABOVE: Health officials are advising everyone to get a flu shot. This year’s strain is expected to be a bad one. Geoff Hastings has more on who’s at risk and why the vaccine should be a lot more effective this year.

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In an average flu season, 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized and 3,500 are killed, making the virus the leading cause of death by vaccine-preventable illness in Canada and the developed world.

Health officials are saying that early signs indicate this season’s dominant strain of the flu could be a particularly nasty one. H3N2 is especially virulent and bad for seniors.

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“Influenza H3N2 tends to change a lot from year to year, and evolves dramatically, so seniors as the rest of us in fact don’t have much protection to that virus,” said Dr. Meena Dawar from Vancouver Coastal Health.

This year’s vaccination, however, protects against H3N2, as well as influenza ‘B’ and H1N1.

For those with a needle phobia, a new FluMist nasal spray is just as effective, according to Canadian health officials – despite recent reports it doesn’t work.

READ MORE: Sorry kids: Docs urge flu shots, not nasal spray, this year

The province provides free flu shots for at-risk populations and those that work in the health industry, including:

  • children between six months and five years;
  • seniors 65 and older;
  • pregnant women;
  • Aboriginal people;
  • individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems;
  • anyone who lives with any of these people; and
  • visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals.

The nasal spray is also free for children aged two to 17 at public health clinics and doctors’ offices.

To keep the most vulnerable patients healthy, all health authority employees, students, physicians, residents, contractors, vendors, volunteers and visitors to health-care facilities must be vaccinated before Dec. 1, or wear a mask when in a patient care area.

Find your closest flu shot clinic here.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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