Eastern Health will be holding influenza vaccine clinics, beginning Monday, for select groups of patients.
The health authority said in a news release today seasonal flu vaccinations have already been made available through family physician’s offices.
In addition, Eastern Health is offering walk-in clinics through its community health offices across the region to individuals who may require the flu shot at no cost.
Patients who may be eligible for free flu shots include:
• People with chronic conditions that require regular medical or hospital care, such as respiratory disorders, cardiac disease, renal disease, metabolic disorders and mobility impairment;
• People living in residential care, nursing homes and other chronic care facilities;
• Anyone age 60 and older;
• Children age six months to four years and 11 months;
• Pregnant women who will deliver during the influenza season;
• People who are morbidly obese;
• Health-care workers, including those in the community or chronic care facilities;
• Essential service workers, such as, but are not limited to police, ambulance personnel, and firefighters;
• Aboriginal people;
• Household contacts of people at high risk of influenza-complications;
• Poultry and swine industry workers.
To find the nearest walk-in clinic to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine, residents can contact their community health office or physician.
Contact information for the participating walk-in clinics, including hours of operation, can also be found online at www.easternhealth.ca/yourhealth.
The public is also reminded to bring their Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Plan (MCP) card when visiting participating clinics.
Dr. David Allison, Eastern Health’s medical health officer, says the peak period for seasonal flu normally runs from December to April, so “vaccination should occur in advance to allow time for the body to develop the best immunity against the flu and to avoid getting sick.”
Allison said the flu shot helps to keep our populations healthy by preventing the spread of disease. “Receiving the vaccine in the fall has proven to be the best means to decrease illness and prevent complications or even hospitalization.”
The flu is a highly contagious, respiratory disease that is caused by a virus and is easily caught and spread from person to person.
Eastern Health says receiving the flu shot, combined with good hand hygiene practices, is the most effective way to help protect against influenza viruses. Symptoms caused by the flu typically include headaches, chills, rapid onset of cough, fever, body aches and pains. While most people recover from the flu, certain groups of the population may be at risk to develop complications caused by the flu, such as pneumonia.
This year’s seasonal influenza vaccination helps to protect individuals against three types of influenza, including two types of influenza A and one influenza B.
Eastern Health says people can also further protect themselves against the flu and other flu-like viruses by adopting good infection prevention practices such as frequently washing their hands, covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of your arm when coughing or sneezing, cleaning surfaces regularly, and staying home when sick.