Greater Trail residents have four more chances this year to roll up their sleeves for an annual flu shot.
Trail’s first flu clinic was up and running in the Cominco Arena on Wednesday, and with fewer patients, wait times were brief.
“The numbers of the public receiving the flu vaccine in the Greater Trail area has remained steady over the past couple of years,” said Lois Otterbine, a public health nurse who has worked the flu clinics for 19 years.
“The noticeable change is that there are now more sites offering the flu vaccine, such as pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and the public health clinics.”
This year, there is an expanded eligibility for the free vaccine, to include all healthy children between six months and five years old, including household contacts and caregivers.
“All persons who wish to avoid influenza symptoms can benefit from the vaccine, and the public health clinics have seen more families with children,” commented Otterbine.
According to HealthLinkBC, influenza is a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus.
The virus is spread from an infected person through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms may include cough, fever, fatigue, muscle weakness, headache, and sore throat.
The illness may last five to ten days, but in the elderly, children and those with compromised immune systems, complications can become severe enough to lead to hospitalization.
The flu shot offers protection against three different strains of influenza that may be circulating this winter, said an Interior Health Authority news release.
The next free flu clinic will be held on Nov. 14 at the Kiro Wellness Centre from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There will also be clinics at Fruitvale Memorial Hall on Nov. 23 (9-4) and Kiro Wellness Centre on Nov. 28 (9-12). A fourth clinic will be held Dec. 12 (9-noon) at Kiro Wellness Centre, by appointment, for children’s second immunizations.
Those eligible for shots at the free clinics include:• people 65 and older and their caregivers• healthy children 6 months to less than five years of age• pregnant women who will be in third trimester during flu season• residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities• owners and operators of poultry farms• aboriginal peoples• very obese adults• those who provide care or service in settings that house persons at high risk for developing influenza complications