Beginning December 1, all visitors to any Vancouver Coastal Health facility must have their flu shot or be wearing a surgical mask.
VCH issued a news release Thursday morning declaring the mandate as a way to prevent the spread of flu and protect already-vulnerable patients from outbreaks.
“The flu can be devastating for our patients because many have weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to serious illness,” explains VCH’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Meena Dawar.
“The best way to protect your loved ones in hospital is to get a flu shot, even if you’re normally a healthy individual. The shot will not only protect you from getting the flu, but also the people around you.”
The policy will run from December 1 to March 31, 2015 in all VCH hospitals, long-term care homes and other health facilities.
Free flu shots are being offered to visitors at their family doctor, VCH flu clinics, walk-in clinics or pharmacies. Those without the flu shot can obtain a mask at a nursing station or outpatient reception desk.
Flu shots are also free for children aged six months to five years, people 65 or older, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
Influenza is highly contagious and rampant during the colder months of the year. Every year, 4,000 to 8,000 people across Canada die from flu and pneumonia complications, with 90 per cent of those being seniors.
To find out if your health care facility is part of Vancouver Coastal Health’s network, search for your location online.
Featured Image: Flu shot via Shutterstock