With the approach of flu season, Interior Health is encouraging all residents to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and their loved ones.

Interior Health said vaccinations are especially important this year, as the world continues to fight against COVID-19, which has similar symptoms to influenza.

A supply of the vaccine has already been brought into the region and set up at targeted clinics for high-risk people. Interior Health said it is working with doctors, nurses pharmacists and licensed nurse practitioners to ensure the widest distribution possible of the influenza vaccine.

The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization or death, especially in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.

“If influenza spreads rapidly in our communities at the same time as COVID-19, it could overwhelm our health-care system and put our loved ones at risk,” said Interior Health.

The health authority is urging the public to be prepared for the flu season, which typically begins in November. Residents are asked to plan ahead, as most providers will require appointments to be booked in advance.

“It’s crucial to protect yourselves and loved ones by getting the flu shot and to stay home when you are sick. In the coming weeks, get your bubble vaccinated as an added protection during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Interior Health.

Flu shots will be available throughout the fall and winter, with a map of B.C.’s flu clinics found here.