Ministry of Health – Will you be visiting a loved one in a health-care facility this winter? Remember to get your flu shot.
As of Dec. 1, people visiting provincial health-care facilities are asked to be vaccinated against the flu or to wear a mask while visiting to help protect those at-risk of influenza.
Provincial health-care facilities include hospitals, long-term care homes, public health units and outpatient clinics.
This year’s flu strain is particularly dangerous to seniors.
Hospitalized patients and seniors in residential care and assisted living are more vulnerable to influenza than healthy adults. People infected with the flu are highly contagious and can spread the virus for 24 hours before they even realize they are sick. Each year, there are approximately 3,500 deaths from the flu and its complications in Canada.
Visitors join all individuals working or volunteering in health-care facilities including students, physicians, residents, contractors and vendors in helping to protect those at risk by choosing to vaccinate or mask, as part of B.C.’s comprehensive influenza prevention strategy. Visitors will be asked to comply with this policy on the honour system.
The flu vaccine is free to people intending to visit a health-care facility and is available at public health clinics, physicians’ offices, travel clinics and pharmacies. It is also free in B.C. for children between six months and five years, seniors 65 and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal people, and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems, and their household contacts and caregivers.
While the best way for visitors to protect those in health-care facilities is to get vaccinated, masks will be available, free of charge, for those who have not been vaccinated.
The influenza vaccine is safe and effective at preventing illness when used in conjunction with other infection control practices, such as hand washing and remaining home when sick.
For more information about influenza and vaccination clinics, visit: www.immunizebc.ca