According to the mid-season analysis performed by the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network, this year’s vaccine appears to have reduced the risk of the H1N1 influenza by an estimated 91 per cent in children ages one through eight, and 72 per cent in the general population.
That is a huge increase from last season's flu shot, which was less than 20 per cent effective in preventing Canadians from getting sick during what turned out to be an H3N2-dominant epidemic.
“We’ve already seen more than 600 children admitted to hospitals across Canada with flu-like symptoms,” said Dr. Manish Sadarangani with Pediatric Infectious Diseases at BC Children's Hospital. “The H1N1 virus has hit young children particularly hard this year. This year’s vaccine is a good match to the virus and it’s very effective in keeping kids healthy.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that as of Jan. 25, at least ten children under age 10 have died from flu complications. Dr. Sadarangani says while it’s best to get vaccinated in October when flu season kicks off, it’s not too late to get the shot.
“The early data shows just how effective this year’s flu vaccine is. There is still a lot of influenza A and H1N1 circulating so it’s best to get vaccinated to protect your family."
BC Children’s offers both pediatric (including nasal spray) and adult flu vaccines along with all publicly-funded immunizations at no cost to patients and visitors. They can drop-in or pre-book an appointment.
Family Immunization Clinic details
Dates: Flu shots available now to March 2019. All other publicly funded immunizations are available year-round.
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Please note: drop-in visits cannot always be accommodated in the afternoon. A booked appointment reduces any wait times. To pre-book an appointment, call 604-875-3000.
Location: Ambulatory Care Building (ACB), BC Children's Hospital; 4480 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3N1; Main Level, Entrance 21
How effective is the flu vaccine?
Researchers have found this season’s flu vaccine to be very effective against the most dominant flu strain (H1N1). The vaccine appears to have reduced the risk of infection by 91 per cent in young children, and by 72 per cent in the general population. PHSA recommends that everyone six months of age and older gets a yearly flu vaccine with rare exception.
Who is eligible for the free flu shot?
Patients at BC Children’s and BC Women’s, their family members and visitors, and pregnant women. Patients do not require a referral but a pre-booked appointment is recommended to reduce wait times.
What happens if patients and their families visiting BC Children’s or BC Women’s have not had a flu shot?
For the protection of PHSA site patients, anyone visiting must have had a flu shot or are required to wear a mask during flu season (now until approximately March 2019).