Pharmacies now giving flu shots

It's that time of year again and the flu shot is available throughout the province.

Pharmacist Esha Randhawa painlessly gives Penticton MLA Dan Ashton an influenza vaccination Friday at the Penticton Rexall Drug Store on Skaha Lake Road.

Pharmacist Esha Randhawa painlessly gives Penticton MLA Dan Ashton an influenza vaccination Friday at the Penticton Rexall Drug Store on Skaha Lake Road.

Getting a flu shot isn’t part of an MLA’s usual duties, but Dan Ashton decided he wanted to make a point of getting his annual vaccination.

The Penticton MLA said getting the influenza vaccine is very important, especially in Penticton where the population is older.

“I have been a firm supporter of people getting flu shots, of people getting vaccinated for it, for years,” said Ashton. “The last thing we need is for it to catch hold in our community and especially with our aged population here. It’s absolutely devastating when people do get sick.”

While most people who have a flu are often well enough to return to work in a week to 10 days, weakness and fatigue may persist for longer. The symptoms of influenza develop quickly and include fever, fatigue, body aches, shivering and headaches. Congestion and coughing are also common.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there were about 8,000 reported hospitalizations due to influenza and 600 reported influenza-related deaths in 2014-15.

Nesha Randhawa, the Rexall Drug Store pharmacist that gave Ashton his shot, said it makes sense for as many people as possible to get the shot.

“I don’t think people really realize how severe it can be. It is pretty debilitating,” said Randhawa.

To get it, she said, people just need to drop by a pharmacy that is giving out the shot, sign a consent form and they can get it right away.

“I know lots of people are running out of the flu shot, so the sooner you get it the better,” said Randhawa.

London Drugs says pharmacists now play a key role in achieving higher flu immunization rates in Canada. During this year’s immunization campaign, London Drugs pharmacists expect to administer more flu vaccinations than ever before.

Although flu viruses exist throughout the world year-round, in Canada the flu season usually runs from late November to April.

The flu shot is available throughout the province at public health clinics, physicians’ offices, travel clinics and pharmacies. It is free in B.C. for children between six months and five years, seniors 65 and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal people, and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. As well, the nasal spray flu vaccine is provided free at public health clinics and physicians’ offices to children two to 17 years of age who are at risk of serious illness from influenza or who live with someone who is at risk.