Flu shots may reduce deaths among youngsters, but Island Health isn't yet quite ready to make them universal for young people.
Universal immunization would control flu transmission among children and lower the rate of death from flu, according to a recent U.S. health study.
Some jurisdictions, such as Ontario, already have universal flu immunization programs.
A U.S. study of 794 pediatric influenza-related deaths between 2004 and 2012 found value in immunization, plus anti-viral drugs when youngsters get the flu. The report, released this week, points to benefits from expanded or universal flu immunization.
"It certainly speaks to the need for all children to receive annual flu vaccinations, though that's just one study," said Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health's medical health officer for the Central Island. A flu clinic on today in Departure Bay is part of an ongoing campaign to protect children, and seniors, their caregivers, and adults with compromised immunity.
Each fall, Island Health makes immunizations available for free to people at higher risk to flu, by holding rotating flu clinics at various locations.
All children "are encouraged to receive vaccine" but shots are only given free up to age five.
"The study is kind of alluding to, perhaps we should review that," Hasselback said. "That is already kind of under consideration, but it won't happen this current year."
The number of people getting flu shots has risen in recent years, and with it fewer flu cases are being reported, and the evidence makes a case for universal immunization.
"We're constantly reviewing ways to keep us healthier as a society, and it looks like some of the work we're doing increasing immunization is making a difference," Hasselback said.
Today's drop-in clinic is from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Departure Bay Activity Centre, at 1415 Wingrove St. Clinics are at the same time on Wednesday, at
Beban Park and Thursday at Maranatha Forsquare Gospel Church, 6553 Portsmouth Rd.
More are scheduled for Nov. 13, 1-4 p.m. at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, 741 Third St., Nov. 14. 9 a.m.-noon. at Moose Hall, 1356 Cranberry Ave., Nov. 15, 4-7 p.m. at St. Andrews
Presbyterian church, located at 4235 Departure Bay Rd., on Nov. 16, from 9 a.m.-noon., at Princess Royal Family Centre, at 260 Irwin St., and Nov. 20, from 9 a.m.-noon at Beban Park.
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