It’s that time of year again.
With flu season just around the corner, people are already rolling up their sleeves for an annual influenza shot.
Local pharmacies have been offering free flu shots to eligible people for one week, so it’s possible that the days of long lines at the public clinics might be over.
Public immunizations are being offered in the Trail Memorial Centre on Nov. 3 and Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., but according to Interior Health’s flu clinic locator, the service isn’t being offered in Rossland or Beaver Valley this year.
That’s where the pharmacies seem to be filling the gap because in seven days, Fruitvale’s IDA Pharmacy has administered 300 vaccines for Monday through Friday drop-ins and Rossland’s Alpine Drug Mart isn’t far behind. However, that store offers the service during scheduled times – next being Tuesday from 9 a.m. until noon.
Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Trail has been busy vaccinating people as well, says pharmacist Linda Seib.
“We’ve given quite a few flu shots already to high risk people,” she noted.
Those considered high risk included people over 65, expectant mothers, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma.
Seib reminds anyone coming in for a flu vaccination to wear short sleeves and bring his/her Care Card. There is a consent form to fill out and clients will be asked to hang around for 15 minutes in case of a reaction, she added.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that all Canadians six month of age and older receive the seasonal shot this fall, citing that the vaccine is safe and most effective way to prevent spread of the disease.
Doctor Lucinda Loukras, a local paediatrician, say that every time a child gets a flu shot, that action protects playmates who may have chronic illnesses and or other family members with progressive diseases such as diabetes or cancer.
“Kids are the harbourers of the disease and spread it around,” said Loukras. “I think all children should get the flu shot because they can infect, for example a grandparent, who if they got influenza, it would be very dangerous for them.”
Loukras noted that for caregivers and health care professionals, it’s reassuring that local parents are responding to the message that flu shots are essential to help prevent the spread of disease.
“For us who care for children, and for parents who may have a child that is high risk, it’s nice to know that as a community we are protecting all of them. It makes a big difference.”
Loukras recently moved to the area and brings 26 years of paediatric experience to the region.
She will soon open her practise in downtown Trail.
“It’s kind of a fun thing,” Loukras said. “My office will be at 850 Helena Street, which is also the site of the original Trail hospital.”
On a final note regarding flu shots, Loukras reminds people not to buy into the latest media hype over the deadly spread of the Ebola virus in North America.
“About this crazy fear about Ebola,” she explained. “We need to listen to our health officers that keep reminding us that more people die every year around North American from the flu that will ever die from Ebola in our country.”
Guests to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital and any health care facility are required to have a flu shot or wear a mask wear when visiting patients during flu season that begins Dec. 1 and ends March 31.