B.C. health officials are encouraging people to get the flu shot soon amid a particularly severe strain of H1N1 this season and a possibility the vaccines will run out.
Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s chief provincial health officer, says demand for flu vaccines is outpacing the province's supply, CBC News reported.
"The vaccine supply is not inexhaustible. We have supplies available, but it's conceivable that if demand continues to be high, we will use up all of those 1.4 million doses," he told the network.
Kendall said the remaining vaccines would be moved around the province as needed, but numerous pharmacies and clinics have already run out.
The possible shortage comes after a woman died from H1N1 in the Okanagan.
Alberta's supply is expected to run out by Friday. Nine people in that province have died from H1N1 so far, and another 354 Albertans have been hospitalized. Health officials in Alberta said they've obtained the last doses available worldwide from an Italian manufacturer.
As many as 30 people have been admitted to intensive care units in B.C. this flu season. Doctors are not expecting it to be as serious as in 2009, when 8,678 Canadians were hospitalized and 428 people died, The Globe and Mail reported.
Strains other than H1N1 tend to affect very young children, seniors and those with compromised immune systems, but H1N1 itself is unusual because it hits children and younger adults, pointed out William Bowie, a professor in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine who specializes in infectious diseases.
Flu concerns have also been heightened after an Alberta resident died of H5N1 bird flu earlier this month. The individual stopped at the Vancouver airport enroute home to Edmonton from Beijing.
H5N1 infection comes from contact with poultry and "human-to-human transmission is very rare," said Kendall.
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Feeling feverish or having a fever of 100°F or higher can be an indicator for the flu or H1N1 virus, though not everyone with the flu will get a fever. Fevers are unlikely with a common cold.
Feeling achy all over or getting a headache is another symptom of the flu or H1N1, and not generally associated with getting a cold. This tends to show as more general aches, as opposed to those confined to one area.
Nausea, Vomiting Or Diarrhea
Nausea is the most symptom of the flu, and less likely to occur with a cold. However, if you're vomiting continuously, this can indicate a more severe strain of the flu, and you should seek medical help.
A sore throat is usually the first indicator of the beginning of illness, whether it's a cold, the flu or worse.
Coughing occurs when one has a cold or the flu, though if it worsens, that can indicate a more severe strain, like H1N1.
An intense feeling of exhaustion, like not being able to get out of bed, is a sign that you have the flu or H1N1. This does not usually occur with a cold.
Chills can occur as a result of many kinds of bacterial and viral illnesses, including colds, the flu and H1N1.
Though a runny nose is most closely associated with a cold, it can also be part of having the flu or H1N1. Be sure to have plenty of tissues on hand to keep germs from spreading.
Dizziness is not a normal symptom for a cold or flu, and should be treated with seriousness.
Dehydration is a serious risk when you're ill, either because you feel too sick to drink or eat, or you've been vomiting and/or having diarrhea. Being dehydrated can indicate H1N1, and you should seek medical attention.
Pain In Stomach Or Chest
Feeling pains in your stomach or chest while or immediately after you have the flu can indicate a serious complication, like pneumonia. Seek medical help immediately.
Blue, Purple Or Grey Lips
Discoloured lips can indicate a lung infection, which poses a serious health risk. Be sure to seek medical attention immediately.
NEXT: 10 ways to help protect you from the flu
Make Yourself A DIY Germ Barrier
To help keep the germs at bay, use a cotton swab to apply petroleum jelly to the inside of your nostrils. Voila! You've got yourself an enhanced germ barrier. Our <a href="http://www.caring.com/articles/7-ways-to-avoid-getting-sick-when-you-fly" target="_hplink">noses are often soft spots for bacteria and viruses and a small layer of jelly can act as a protective barrier. </a>
Keep an all-natural hand sanitizer that promises to kill 99.9 per cent of germs in your pocket or purse at all times.
Protect The Kids
Kids are primary germ carriers and will inevitably fall ill this season. To prevent yourself from getting sick, make sure your children are also protected either with a flu shot or medication.
Get Fresh With Garlic
Bacteria love warm, humid environments. If what you've got now is a bacterial infection, garlic is a powerful, all-natural antibiotic solution. Of course we're not telling you to eat a raw clove straight — instead try adding garlic to soups, salads or your favourite pasta.
Reach For Probiotics
A happy gut means a healthy immune system. Reach for probiotic supplements or yogurt. Probiotics can <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1281141/Probiotics-good-digestion-But-combat-flu-allergies-bad-breath.html" target="_blank">boost the immune system and increase resistance to the cold and flu by producing antibiotics.</a>
Get Some Zzzs
Lack of sleep is proven to contribute to an unhealthy immune system. To ensure you have a congestion-free sleep, whether you're sick or not, use a nasal strip to help open your airways.
Sneeze In The Sleeve
Much like hand washing, this is one of the simplest ways to help prevent the spread of germs.
Shower Your Nose
Irrigate your nasal cavity with a neti-pot. It will flush out the viruses and bacteria reducing chances of impending infections.
Don't Forget The D
When it comes to the flu, it’s not all about Vitamin C, Vitamin D is just as important. Since we may not get as many hours of sunshine as we do in the summertime, taking vitamin D supplements during the winter can help boost immunity and protect our bodies from catching a cold.
Research suggests the use of a properly formulated Echinacea means fewer colds, reduced duration of cold symptoms, and less reliance on synthetic pain relievers.