Metro Vancouver hospitals asking visitors to wear masks if they don’t have flu shot

Dec 7 2018, 8:25 pm

With the flu season in full effect, officials with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) are asking that anyone who has not had a flu shot and is visiting any of their facilities to wear a mask while doing so.

The policy, they explain, is part of the province’s strategy to prevent the spread of flu and protect already vulnerable patients from a potentially fatal infection.

“The flu can be devastating for our patients because many have chronic health problems including weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to serious illness,” says VCH’s Medical Health Officer, Dr. Meena Dawar.

People who have not had a flu shot can obtain a surgical mask at a nursing station or outpatient reception desk. Doctors, staff, students and volunteers are also required to get immunized or wear a mask while at work during the flu season.

VCH said the policy is applicable to all patient care areas in VCH hospitals, residential care homes, community health care centres and other health facilities from now to the end of the season, which typically is the end of March 2019.

Flu shots for visitors are free and can be obtained from family doctors, walk-in clinics or pharmacies. The ImmunizeBC website lists all clinics across the province.

People who have not had a flu shot can obtain a surgical mask at a nursing station or outpatient reception desk. Doctors, staff, students and volunteers are also required to get immunized or wear a mask while at work during the flu season.

Still, “the best way to protect your loved ones in hospital is to get a flu shot, even if you’re normally a healthy individual,” said Dawar. “The shot will not only protect you from getting the flu, but also the people around you.”

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