Push is on to get children vaccinated for the flu at Island clinics

Push is on to get children vaccinated for the flu at Island clinics

As flu shot clinics open for walk-in appointments, parents were bringing their kids to get the vaccine following the B.C. government revealing six children have died due to the flu this year.

The Zhong family went to have eight-year-old Eddie, and two-year-old Ella vaccinated.

Ella is now recovering from pneumonia, like many other kids her age.

“Last Saturday we went to the general hospital for emergency, emergency room,” said William Zhong, Ella’s father.

Dr. Mike Benusic, medical health officer for central Vancouver Island with Island Health said it’s an unusual year for influenza.

“Our hospitals across the Island are certainly quite busy right now particularly with the influenza season hitting us pretty fast and hard, and children getting more sick than usual,” Benusic said.

Severe cases of the flu are still increasing, and serious infections after two years without the flu circulating, children are getting hit hard.

And the peak will likely not hit until the New Year.

“You go two years without having flu virus circulating, that means many less people being infected previously, meaning that many less people have that protection that comes with being infected in the past,” Benusic said.

With the start of vaccination clinics available for children older than six months, many are taking advantage.

“It’s horrifying because we’re not very far away from needing to go to the walk-in clinic. We were at urgent care last week,” parent Ann Turner said as she brought her two sons into the clinic, nine-month-old Ivor, and four-year-old Garnet.

Benusic recommends parents watch for the signs of serious illness if they are sick.

“If your child is having difficulty breathing, has had a high fever for more than five days, or looking like they are really tired, and difficult to wake, those are all good reasons to go to an emergency room,” Benusic said.

Many are not waiting.

“I’ve been reading the stories off all the kids getting so sick, I booked in right away,” said Mae Lingren, parent of two-year-old Olive Surgenoer.

Bookings can be made through the Island Health influenza web page.

WATCH: Flu linked to deaths of six B.C. kids as province pushes vaccinations

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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