The 2013-14 influenza season in British Columbia set records with 1.4 million vaccine doses distributed and 80% of health-care workers vaccinated, said Health Minister Terry Lake.
Since Nov. 7, 2013, when the influenza control program launched, a record 1.4 million doses of vaccine have been distributed throughout the province and, according to a BC Centre for Disease Control study, this year’s vaccine was 74% effective in protecting vaccinated British Columbians against the most predominant H1N1 strain.
“I want to personally thank Dr. Perry Kendall and the public health officials at the BC Centre for Disease Control, along with the health authorities, for their professionalism and expert guidance during this busy influenza season,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “I also know that health-care providers made an extraordinary effort to protect their patients by getting vaccinated or wearing a mask, which is appreciated by all British Columbians.”
This was the first year that the health authorities fully implemented the policy to require that all health-care workers and visitors chose to get vaccinated or wear a mask when in patient-care areas. Because of this, the vaccination rate among health-care workers was 80% overall in B.C. - a 10% increase from the previous year.
“As public health professionals plan for the coming influenza season, I want to remind British Columbians that getting vaccinated early is the best way to protect yourself, and others, from complications from influenza,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “We are pleased to see that not only are more people getting vaccinated, the vaccine that was available this year was very effective in protecting against influenza. The earlier you get vaccinated, the better prepared you are to fight the flu.”
“Health authorities partner with physicians and pharmacists to protect residents against influenza,” said medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, Dr. Meena Dawar. “With immunization clinics at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, community clinics and work places, access to the vaccine has never been better and I want to take this opportunity to thank our community immunizers for their role in making this annual campaign a success.”
The facts about influenza:
- Because it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, it is recommended that British Columbians get vaccinated early to ensure they avoid getting the flu.
- Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or face-to-face contact. The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from a cough or sneeze and then touches their eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
- Many people use the term flu to refer to any illness caused by a virus, such as the “stomach flu” or the common cold. However, the influenza virus causes illness that tends to be more severe than other viruses. Symptoms can begin one to four days after a person is first exposed to the virus. Fever and other symptoms usually last seven to 10 days, but the cough and weakness may last one to two weeks longer.
- An infected person can spread the influenza virus even before feeling sick. An adult can spread the virus from about one day before to five days after symptoms start. Children can spread the virus up to 21 days after symptoms start.
- Along with vaccination, there are ways to help protect yourself from contracting or spreading influenza: wash your hands frequently, always practise proper cough or sneeze etiquette and stay home when you are feeling ill.
For more information about B.C.’s immunization program, go to: www.immunizebc.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)