A number of clinics in B.C. are offering additional walk-in influenza immunizations as part of the B.C. government’s efforts to support people and families with children to get vaccinated.
Friday through Sunday, additional clinics will be administering influenza immunization shots with a focus on children’s vaccinations ahead of the incoming holiday season.
Community members can also register and book an appointment online, a process that will find the closest available clinic.
The BC Centre for Disease Control said it is aware of six reports of influenza-associated deaths among children and youth under the age of 19 in the province.
In a statement to Global News, the organization said “early findings indicate some of the children experienced secondary bacterial infections contributing to severe illness which can be a complication of influenza.”
“It is important to know that death associated with influenza in previously healthy children continues to be rare. Public health is monitoring the situation closely, and are reminding people of the steps they can take to prevent themselves, their children and their loved ones against the flu.”
Influenza claims the lives of 6 B.C. children
While the province has previously said influenza vaccinations for adults are at an all-time high in B.C., officials want to see higher vaccination rates for children, which was around 20 per cent, depending on age, on Monday.
“It’s not too late (to get immunized). We’ve seen a surge (in illness) early in the season and we’re still trying to determine if it’s more severe because more children are being infected,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. provincial health officer.
“My understanding is that none of the children who’ve had severe illnesses or that have died so far received the influenza vaccine, which is a tragedy.
She continued, “We need to make sure that people are aware that this is the best protection we have and that’s why we are making it available, hopefully very easily, for everybody across the province over the next few days”
All physicians and pediatricians in B.C. have also been directed by the province to keep an eye out for severe influenza cases.
In B.C., influenza immunizations are free for everyone six months and older. Children two and older have the option to get a flu shot or a nasal spray vaccine. Those under the age of nine who have never had a flu vaccine need two doses.
The province also said it will be providing weekly updates on influenza deaths.
According to the province, there are five ways to get a child vaccinated in B.C.
- Book an appointment at a health authority clinic or pharmacy through the provincial booking system.
- Book an appointment by phoning the provincial call centre at 1-833-838-2323.
- Book an appointment with your primary health-care provider.
- Visit a pharmacy or health authority clinic offering walk-in appointments.
- Respond to a phone or email invitation for vaccination.
Previously, the BC CDC said vaccination against influenza is particularly important for children at the highest individual risk of severe outcomes, including:
- children with chronic medical conditions, including heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis
- children with kidney disease, chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis, diabetes, cancer, anemia or weakened immune system
- children with health conditions causing difficulty breathing, swallowing or a risk of choking on food or fluids, such as people with severe brain damage, spinal cord injury, seizures or neuromuscular disorders
- children and teenagers who must take Aspirin or ASA for long periods of time due to a medical condition
- children who are very obese
- infants and toddlers
New reporting system for child illness coming to B.C.
— with files from Global BC’s Amy Judd and Christa Dao
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