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Demand for flu shots steady even without H1N1 concerns

Tri-City residents are turning up for this year's flu shots at about the same rate as last year.

Tri-City residents are turning up for this year's flu shots at about the same rate as last year.

Fraser Health spokesperson Roy Thorpe-Dorward said demand has been steady so far this flu season but without the long line-ups seen during the H1N1 panic of 2009.

"The numbers are very similar to last year," said Denise Anderson, manager of Tri-Cities Public Health. The main flu shot clinics at Coquitlam Alliance Church and Coquitlam Centre have drawn 1,016 people, compared with 1,034 last year.

"It's all within the ballpark," Anderson said, adding the health unit has distributed 31,000 flu shot doses to vaccine providers such as physicians, pharmacies and seniors' care facilities.

This year's flu vaccines are unchanged from last year, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization, and include A/California, an H1N1-like virus, A/Perth, an H3N2-like virus and B/Brisbane, a Victoria strain.

Anderson stressed the importance of getting a flu shot to stay protected from the virus.

"It's a bargain," she said. "It's either free or up to $25, or up to $1,000 a day if you're hospitalized. It prevents serious illness and it's the best protection you can get against the flu. It's also safe and effective."

Flu symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and cough. On average, symptoms begin two days after a person is exposed to the virus, meaning people can spread the flu before they know they're sick, making prevention key.

Fraser Health recommends people wash their hands frequently with soap and water, cough and sneeze into their elbow or a tissue and to stay home from work or school when sick.

Those eligible for the free flu shot include people aged 65 and up, adults with chronic health conditions, healthy children aged six to 23 months, pregnant women who will be in their third trimester during flu season (November to April), health care workers and emergency responders.

To see the full list of who can get a free flu shot, and where, visit

Upcoming flu shot clinics in the Tri-Cities are at Port Coquitlam's Leigh Square Community Arts Village on Nov. 21 and 28, at Coquitlam's Glen Pine Pavilion on Dec. 7, at the Newport Health Unit in Port Moody on Dec. 9 and at the PoCo Health Unit on Dec. 12. Call 604-949-7200 for an appointment.