Waging War Against Influenza in BC

Before the end of the year, residents of British Columbia can look forward to better protection  measures against the common ailment – influenza.

Influenza in BC

Health authorities throughout BC (on the advice of Dr. Perry Kendall, BC’s Provincial Health Officer) have agreed to ramp up efforts to protect patients and seniors from influenza exposure for the coming flu season.

The implementation plan calls for any health care workers who come into contact with patients at publicly-funded health care facilities to get the influenza vaccine, or wear a mask during the flu season.

“Influenza causes more deaths annually than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined, and hospitalized patients are more vulnerable to complications from influenza than the general population,” said Dr. Kendall.

“This policy will protect patients. Putting in place consistent policies to prevent influenza from spreading is the right thing to do from a patient safety perspective.”

Influenza Measures

Kendall said health authorities in B.C. have been trying to get immunization numbers to go up “for years,” but said despite the encouragement, levels have decreased since 2010.

Even with a recent push towards vaccinations, healthcare workers had a dismal 40% vaccination rate last year.

“This decision has been made by all health authorities, acting upon the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, and ensures we are reducing the risk to our patients to the best of our ability,” said Dr. Nigel Murray, president and CEO, Fraser Health.

The influenza vaccine is extremely safe, and is the most effective way to prevent illness from the influenza virus, helping to prevent infection in healthy adults by up to 80 per cent.

Influenza in BC

  • Influenza causes the most deaths among vaccine-preventable diseases
  • In addition to being a quality and safety issue, improved influenza vaccination coverage helps to reduce rates of employee illness
  • Flu shots are traditionally available around Thanksgiving each year.
  • Flu season typically runs from late November/early December through to the end of March. 
  • Studies have demonstrated that health care workers who are ill with influenza frequently continue to work. 
  • B.C. will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement this province-wide policy. 
  • People who may be at increased risk include: seniors, people with chronic health conditions (especially heart or lung conditions), aboriginal people, or those with compromised immune systems

Every fall, we set up immunizations for the entire staff at Iridia. We recommend immunizations for all low-risk groups, as is it the most effective ways to protect against influenza.

Learn more:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/flu-grippe-eng.php

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