Each year, there are about 3,500 deaths from influenza and its complications across Canada — and yesterday BC Health Minister, Terry Lake and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall took the most effective protection step against it, and rolled up their sleeves for a poke in the arm.
Flu shots are now available throughout the province at public health clinics, physicians’ offices, travel clinics, and pharmacies, and they’re free for:
- children between six months and five years
- seniors 65 and older
- pregnant people
- aboriginal people and those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
Mr. Lake noted getting a flu shot not only goes to self-protection, but also to the protection of those around you, who might be vulnerable to flu complications.
Meantime, Dr. Kendall again noted, “The flu causes by far the most deaths among vaccine-preventable diseases, outpacing all others combined.”
In a related matter, elderly people are reminded again of the Centres for Disease Control recommendation for everyone 60 and older, who doesn’t have a medical reason to skip it, to seriously consider getting the shingles vaccine shot.
It’s approved for people as young as 50, and most common in those, that age or older, those with medical conditions that keep the immune system from working properly — or those who take medicines that suppress the immune system.
Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. But you can still get shingles long after having chickenpox, since the virus stays inactive in your body long after the airborne disease symptoms disappear.
Personal experience suggests, you’ll need a doctor’s prescription and likely more than $200 to get the vaccine, but as much as that might be a pocketbook challenge, without medical insurance assistance, it’s a small price to pay to avoid the painful skin rash and blisters in an infected area.
The vaccine can roughly cut by 50% your chances of getting shingles, and it’s worth noting those who get it after receiving the vaccine are more likely to experience shorter periods of related nerve pain, which can last weeks, months, or even years after the rash disappears.