Protect yourself and others from seasonal respiratory viruses

Vancouver Islanders may not be hearing the sound of sleigh bells just yet, but they are hearing the sounds of seasonal respiratory viruses making their way through the community. Has “the cough” made its way around your office or school yet?

Island Health encourages everyone to take these steps to protect themselves and others from the flu and other seasonal respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Stay home when you’re sick or have flu symptoms and avoid visiting friends, family and loved ones who may have compromised immune systems, including people who live in long-term residential care facilities and patients in hospitals.
  • Do not cough or sneeze into your hands – use your upper arm or a tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get a flu shot!

Island Health says now’s also the time for Vancouver Islanders to get a flu shot to protect themselves against the nasty – and potentially dangerous – influenza (flu) virus. Flu cases usually increase in the fall, and it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to take effect.

Island Health recommends the flu shot for everyone. They are free in B.C. for all children from six months to five years of age, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal people, and those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. The vaccine is also important (and free) for anyone who lives or works with a person who is at higher risk of health complications from the flu, and for visitors to hospitals and long term care facilities.

Influenza is a serious respiratory illness. Healthy people usually recover from the flu, but getting a flu shot keeps you from spreading the virus to people who may be more vulnerable.

Unfortunately, those infected with influenza can spread the virus for up to two days before they have any symptoms. Each year, about 3,500 Canadians die from influenza and its complications across Canada.


Symptoms of influenza

Typically, influenza starts with sudden onset of fever, sore throat, cough and muscle aches, but you may have some or all of the following symptoms:

Fever and chills; body aches; headache; dry cough; weak and tired; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; loss of appetite.


Where can I get a flu shot?

  • From a pharmacist
  • With your family doctor
  • At a walk-in clinic
  • At an Island Health Public Health clinic. Visit

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