A pop-up flu clinic was held at the Pigeon Park market in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside today.
“We target this population because in this neighbourhood, people live very densely, and that is a higher risk for transmission of influenza,” says Mark Demers with Vancouver Coastal Health.
“And also people in this neighbourhood, a very prominent value, is people value their independence. There’s a lot of people here who are not plugged into the system, who may not have doctors, who may not go to the clinic, so we may not have access to them otherwise.”
The clinic is one of 90 being offered across the Vancouver area over the next two weeks as the influenza season nears.
Last year marked one of Canada’s worst flu seasons in decades, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. With 606 deaths and more than 8,000 hospitalizations, the influenza vaccine available was of little to no help to those at high risk of getting sick.
Last year’s vaccine was designed to protect against the H1N1 and B strains of the influenza virus. Unfortunately, the prevalence of the H3N2 strain was overlooked, resulting in increased rates of illness by those who received a flu shot.
This season the vaccine is designed to protect against the H3N2 strain, predicted to once again be the prevalent influenza virus in B.C.
WATCH: What you need to know about this year’s flu shot
“No one actually knows how effective it’s going to be,” admits Demers.
“We don’t know what strains are coming down until they get here. They can mutate at any point, that’s the problem with flu viruses. But even if it’s a near miss, the vaccine will make the influenza less severe for you,”
Among those getting their flu shot on Sunday was James Dickinson.
“I used to get a cold, runny nose, coughing, all this, every change of the season for years. And then I starting getting my flu shot, and I’m good for the whole year,” he said.
“It’s painless, and I highly recommend it. Stay healthy everybody.”
– With files from April Johnson