If you have been on the fence about whether or not to get the flu shot this year, this might be the nudge you need to roll up your sleeve.
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says preliminary findings show the influenza vaccine has cut the risk of the flu in half during the ongoing flu season.
The findings come from the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN), headquartered at the BCCDC.
The SPSN, which includes primary care providers from Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec, provides mid-season flu vaccine effectiveness estimates based on data from patients seeking care for flu-like sickness.
“We will update our analysis in the new year, but these interim findings show a substantial reduction in the risk of influenza illness for vaccinated people who seek medical care,” said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, lead of the SPSN and a physician epidemiologist at the BCCDC, in a news release.
“Vaccine protection is especially important for people at higher risk of severe complications and for a health care system that is managing the circulation of multiple respiratory viruses at the same time as we enter the holiday period.”
Because the flu season started earlier than usual, Dr. Skowronski said they were able to assess the vaccine effectiveness earlier rather than the typical mid-season in January or February.
According to the release, the majority of flu cases this season have come from the subtype H3N2 which is often associated with more severe epidemics and lower vaccine effectiveness. However, the SPSN vaccine effectiveness estimate is currently comparable or higher than measured in previous seasons against the same subtype.
Vaccines are available across the province.
“Vaccines are available for everyone six months and older in B.C. and these preliminary findings show how vaccination remains our best defence against respiratory illnesses,” said B.C. Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, in the release.
Find where you can get at shot on the ImmunizeBC website.
Folks are also reminded to stay at home if feeling unwell, cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms and to clean your hands frequently.