Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flu Vaccine Campaign In BC


VICTORIA – B.C.’s seasonal flu vaccine campaign will focus first on those at highest risk for seasonal flu and be followed closely by the H1N1 flu vaccine that will be available to everyone who needs and wants it, announced Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Ida Chong with provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

“Delivering the vaccine campaign in this fashion allows us to best protect British Columbians most at risk from seasonal flu, while still ensuring that everyone who needs and wants the H1N1 flu vaccine will be able to receive it as soon as it’s available,” said Kendall.

“By initially targeting the seasonal flu campaign to those at highest risk, it not only removes a number of logistical challenges that come with trying to run two full immunization programs at once, but it is also in the best public health interest of British Columbians.”

On October 13, the seasonal flu vaccine will be offered to people 65 and older, and residents in long-term care homes. A pneumococcal vaccine will also be available at the same time for high-risk individuals (seniors and those with chronic medical conditions) to prevent influenza-related pneumonia.

“This is a decision that has not been taken lightly,” said Chong. “It has been assisted by independent ethical review and has undergone thoughtful review and deliberation by public health officials, scientists and policy makers in B.C. and across Canada over the past several weeks.”

Starting in November, the H1N1 flu vaccine will be rolled out and will be available to everyone who needs and wants it. Then, in early 2010, the seasonal flu vaccine will once again be offered to everyone else under the age of 65 according to the usual guidelines. “This year, the predominant strain of seasonal influenza is, in fact, the pandemic H1N1 virus,” said Dr. David Patrick, epidemiology services director at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“While those people who are 65 and older and who live in long-term care homes should still receive the seasonal flu shot, for the majority of the population, the flu virus they need to protect themselves against is this strain of H1N1.” The decision to focus the flu vaccine campaign in this way was based on a number of reasons, including:
  • The possibility of an early fall second wave of H1N1 flu. ·The timing of H1N1 vaccine availability.
  • The strains of influenza that are currently circulating.
  • Canadian research that has suggested a potential association between prior seasonal influenza vaccination and the risk of acquiring pandemic H1N1 disease.
For more information on the seasonal flu vaccine, including a flu clinic locator that can direct the public to get information on clinics in their area once information becomes available, visit www.immunizebc.ca. For more information on the H1N1 flu virus, visit www.gov.bc.ca/h1n1.


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