It's not too late to get the flu shot, health authority says, as virus hits B.C. hard

B.C. is in the thick of flu season, but according to Northern Health, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

More than average cases of influenza in northern B.C. for this time of year

It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

B.C. is in the thick of flu season, but according to Northern Health, it's not too late to get a flu vaccine to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

Medical health officer Rakel Kling told CBC's Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk that the whole province, but the North in particular, are experiencing a higher-than-average rate of influenza this season.

"What we're seeing this year in British Columbia is that children under nine or 10 are getting influenza quite a lot this year."

The current strain that's taken hold of northern communities is H1N1. Kling said it's most common in children, which fits with what the health authority is seeing in patients, and causes the same symptoms as typical flu strains; extreme fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle aches and sometimes a sore throat or cough. Those symptoms can lead to further complications, including ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.

"And it can, if it's really serious, it can lead to death in some people. So that's why it's just extra important to make sure everyone is vaccinated," she said.

The H1N1 virus is most common in children, according to Northern Health. (George Rudy/Shutterstock )

The good news is that this year's flu shot covers the H1N1 strain, among others, and it takes about two weeks to take effect, so the sooner you get it, the better, Kling said.

If you can't get a flu shot there are other things you can do to stay healthy this flu season.

"Making sure you wash your hands a lot every day, if you are coughing or sneezing cough into your elbow. And, it's important to stay at home and not go to work or school if you are starting to have symptoms," Kling said.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control, in a report issued Thursday, said there are some indications that flu season has peaked but further monitoring is required to confirm that.

It also found there have only been 11 flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities this season compared to 61 in 2017-18 and 93 in 2016-17. The dominant strains from the previous two season were more likely to affect seniors, the report noted, which explains the lower number this year.

Anyone experiencing trouble breathing, high fever that lasts for several days or those with chronic health conditions are advised to see a physician.

With files from Daybreak North