Peak flu season hits BC with officials warning about outbreaks

File photo. Global News

Peak flu season has now hit B.C. and there are concerns about outbreaks across the province.

Island Health says there are outbreaks of Influenza A already in long-term care facilities in the Nanaimo and Parksville areas, along with reports from across Vancouver Island and the mainland of people with confirmed cases of the flu.

In the interior, four deaths “directly attributed to the outbreak” of influenza at care facilities have been reported so far this flu season.

In the 2016/17 flu season, 37 seniors died in Interior Health Authority (IHA) care facilities where influenza outbreaks were declared.

Eleven residential care facilities in the interior have declared a flu outbreak.

READ MORE: Four deaths linked to flu sweeping through B.C. Interior care facilities

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While the flu is often a short-term inconvenience for healthy people, it can be deadly for those who are elderly or ill.

According to Health Canada, influenza (the flu) is among the leading causes of death in Canada, causing more than 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually.

Officials are asking people, if they are ill, not to visit hospitals, residential care homes or assisted living facilities.

“During the flu season, demand on emergency rooms and hospitals increases,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer. “Do not use emergency services for health care needs that can be met by your physician or at walk-in clinics.”

Island Health has provided these steps to protect yourself and others from the flu and other seasonal respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands frequently after touching people or surfaces. Use soap and water and/or alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Stay home when you’re sick or have flu symptoms. Keep children home from school when they are ill.
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper arm or use a tissue, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • And it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

Vaccines are available from a pharmacist or physician at many locations. Visit Immunize BC’s Influenza Clinic Locator, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or contact your family doctor for more information. Find out if you are eligible for the free flu vaccine at

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For more information about the influenza vaccine, visit or call 8-1-1 to speak to a health professional at HealthLinkBC. 

~With files from Shelby Thom

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