Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall gets his annual flu shot. Influenza vaccines are still available. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Hospitals, care homes struggle with influenza

Call your doctor or 8-1-1 for nurse advice before going to emergency

B.C. health care facilities are struggling with peak influenza season, with outbreaks at residential care homes across the province and an influx of emergency room visits from people battling cough, fever and fatigue.

Public health officials urge people suffering from the flu to avoid spreading the viral infection if possible, and if they need medical treatment to visit doctors’ offices or walk-in clinics.

Visitors are also being urged to stay away from residential care facilities if they have respiratory symptoms, or the diarrhea and nausea associated with Norovirus or similar gastro-intestinal infections.

Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said most people with influenza should contact their doctors or call the B.C. HealthLink line at 8-1-1 for advice before they head for the hospital.

“Trying to avoid the emergency rooms is good because you don’t really want to spread influenza among vulnerable people or health care workers if you can avoid it,” Kendall said.

Anti-viral drugs can be prescribed for people with underlying heart or respiratory illnesses, and they should arrange that in advance, even if they’ve had the seasonal flu shot, Kendall said.

Most healthy people will recover at home with rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

While hospitals and residential care facilities are coping with dozens of outbreaks, this year’s flu season is not as severe as B.C. experienced in the past two winters.

This season started early with a mix of influenza A and B strains, with influenza B more prevalent now.

“The good news of this is the influenza B protection in the vaccine is pretty good this year,” Kendall said. “It’s effective 60 to 70 per cent.”

Influenza A tends to affect older people more severely, and its incidence is down this year compared to the severe infection levels seen last year.

As of Wednesday, Fraser Health listed influenza outbreaks at more than 30 health facilities, including Delta and Langley Memorial Hospitals.

Island Health listed six outbreaks as of Wednesday, including at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Interior Health has 11 outbreaks on its list, including residential care homes in Kelowna, Penticton, Williams Lake, Kaslo and Kamloops.

Influenza vaccines are still available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies. The B.C. government maintains a list of available flu shot clinics at

Just Posted

VIDEO: LEGO fundraiser builds playground purse

Inspired families built LEGO creations, helped Silver Creek build playground

Sunshine Valley songbird releases EP

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Pater has been singing and performing since age 9

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

Most Read