Fraser Health is encouraging people to get their flu vaccines, as the H1N1 virus has returned and is popping up across the region.
The flu strain has already been spreading in Alberta, Ontario, and Texas in recent weeks and is now in B.C. and the Lower Mainland.
By mid-week, there were more than a dozen patients on ventilators with confirmed H1N1, not all elderly. Some were in their early 30s, some are pregnant, and others have chronic diseases.
â€œWe are seeing small pockets of very severe disease,â€ said Dr. PaulVan Buynder, Fraser Healthâ€™s chief medical helath officer. â€œThe care available to patients through the support of our intensive care staff is exceptional and I am expecting all those presently on ventilators to eventually recover. If you received the 2013 influenza vaccine, you are immunized against the H1N1 strain currently circulating in our community. We are urging those who have not already had their flu shot to get one. It is not too late.â€
There are presently no intensive care unit patients at Langley Memorial Hospital who have been diagnosed with H1N1, according to Fraser Health.
The health region is only doing lab tests for more severe cases, so the absence of proven cases does not mean there are not less serious instances of the flu in Langley.
Anyone visiting a health care facility around the Lower Mainland is being asked to either have an up to date vaccination, or to wear a mask to protect those who are most vulnerable to the fluâ€™s effects.
Washing hands and remaining at home while sick are the other components of preventing the spread of the flu.
While most people get vaccinated in October or November at the start of the flu season, there are still shots available.
Fraser Health recommends that anyone interested in getting the vaccine call ahead to their pharmacy, clinic, or doctorâ€™s office to check if they still have supplies on hand.
The H1N1 vaccine distributed in 2009, during the virusâ€™s first worldwide outbreak, may not be effective against this yearâ€™s strain, as it may have mutated, say health officials.
Across the province in 2009 there were more than 1,000 serious cases of H1N1, and more than 50 deaths, including 17 in the Fraser Health region.
The provincial government flu website lists several clinics that offer publicly funded shots for those who meet the criteria as well as private shots.
â€¢ Pharmasave Murrayville, #3 22323 48th Ave., 604-510-5522
â€¢ Shoppers Drug Mart, #601 22259 48th Ave., 604-532-0515
â€¢ Shoppers Drug Mart, 700 – 26310 Fraser Hwy., 604-607-1445
â€¢ Safeway Pharmacy #043, 20871 Fraser Hwy., 604-534-4245
â€¢ Langley Pharmacy, #101 – 20644 Fraser Hwy., 604-539-9799
â€¢ Safeway Pharmacy #165, 27566 Fraser Hwy., 604-856-4667
â€¢ Family Care Pharmacy #4, 5581 204th St., 604-539-1611
â€¢ PriceSmart Pharmacy #2242, 20151 Fraser Hwy., 604-533-0400
â€¢ Shoppers Drug Mart, Unit #1, 4030 – 200th St., 604-530-5388
â€¢ Save-On-Foods #992, 1-20255-64th Ave., 604-532-5833
â€¢ Safeway Pharmacy #059, 6153 200th St., 604-530-6131
â€¢ London Drugs, 20202-66th Ave., 604-533-4631
â€¢ Shoppers Drug Mart, Unit 205 – 6339 200th St., 604-533-2132
â€¢ Superstore, 19851 Willowbrook Dr., 604-532-5435
â€¢ Target, Willowbrook Mall, 19705 Fraser Hwy., 778-777-9021
Free flu shot criteria:
â€¢ Children six months to less than five years of age
â€¢ Pregnant women who are at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season
â€¢ Seniors 65 years and older
â€¢ Residents of any age living in residential care, assisted living or other group facilities
â€¢ Aboriginal people
â€¢ Children and teenagers required to take AspirinÂ® or ASA for long periods of time due to a medical condition
â€¢ Children and adults with certain medical conditions, including: heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care; kidney disease, chronic liver disease, diabetes, cancer, anemia, or weakened immune system; those with health conditions causing difficulty breathing, swallowing, or a risk of choking on food or fluids, such as people with severe brain damage, spinal cord injury, seizures or neuromuscular disorders; and the obese
â€¢ Household contacts of people at high risk
â€¢ Household contacts, caregivers and daycare staff of children under five years of age
â€¢ Doctors, nurses and other health providers
â€¢ People who live or work in confined settings, such as correctional facilities
â€¢ Those who provide care or service to people at high risk
â€¢ Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations
â€¢ People who provide essential community services such as police officers, firefighters and ambulance attendants
â€¢ Those who work with live poultry