THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh photo A person gets a shot during a flu vaccine program. A study has found that people who live in provinces that allow pharmacists to give flu shots are more likely to get vaccinated against the seasonal bug than those living in jurisdictions without such a policy.

Unvacinated hospital visitors asked to whear surgical masks

Northern Health campaign to stop the spread of flu in effect until late March

Northern Health is reminding the public that all visitors to their facilities, which includes the Mills Memorial Hospital, are asked to wear surgical masks if they haven’t received their flu shot. In a press release the health authority said the policy is part of the province’s strategy to prevent the spread of flu and protect vulnerable patients from a fatal infection.

“Patients and clients in hospitals and long term care facilities often have weakened immune systems that put them at greater risk of serious complications from influenza,” said Northern Health chief medical health officer Dr. Sandra Allison. “The best way to protect not only yourself but the people around you is to get a flu shot, even if you’re normally a healthy individual.”

The policy pertains to all patient care areas in Northern Health hospitals, long-term care homes and other health facilities between Dec. 1 and the end of March next year. Visitors to Northern Health facilities are eligible for free flu shots from their family doctors, walk-in clinics or pharmacies.

Surgical masks are available at each facilities’ nursing stations or outpatient reception desks.

For those not qualifying for the free visitors’ flu shot, the standard cost varies between $25 and $30 at pharmacies and travel clinics. The vaccine is otherwise free in B.C. for all children from six months to five years of age, people 65 years and older, Aboriginal people, those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems and for anyone who lives or works with a person who is at higher risk of problems from the flu.

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