WATCH: Island Health officials are urging people to be prepared for a severe flu season. The virus strain called H3N2 has already started making people sick on Vancouver Island and after the impact its had in Southeast Asia and Australia, doctors say people at risk should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Skye Ryan reports.
With all the strength she can muster, Elaine Eldridge is sanitizing handles and doorknobs at a Nanaimo Seniors drop-in centre trying to safeguard it from the dreaded flu bug making the rounds.
“Yeah, I really feel bad for people who are going to get it now,” said the Nanaimo resident, “Because I know what I went through.”
The 65-year-old cleaner is now on the mend herself after being one of the first on Vancouver Island to get the flu this fall, with symptoms she calls some of the worst she can remember in years.
“Chills, fever and then it progressed to a cough,” said Elridge. “I just couldn’t shake the cough.”
Health officials are expecting the flu to hit harder than usual this fall, after what the H3N2 strain did in southeast Asia and Australia, before making its way here.
“What they are reporting is a fairly severe year,” said Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback.
“Definitely increases in the number of people becoming ill as well as the use of healthcare services. So with that knowledge and that strain circulating we can make a fairly good prediction that we better be prepared this year.”
Officials are urging people to get vaccinated, especially those at a higher risk for the flu. This includes children under five-years-old to older people over the age of 65. Island Health will run flu clinics in communities later this month and into November, but many pharmacies are already offering flu shots now.
That’s an option that Eldridge says she didn’t have before getting the flu.
“They didn’t have them out that early, they’re just starting to come out now,” said Eldridge.
So the Nanaimo senior has already booked her flu shot to protect her from getting another strain of the virus that she doesn’t want any part of again.