Island Health’s flu season mask-up policy for visitors comes into effect December 2, 2019

To help protect patients, staff and the public from the flu, Island Health’s mask-up visitor policy starts December 2. 

The policy requires visitors to Island Health facilities who are not vaccinated against influenza to wear a mask in patient care areas. Look for masks near main entrances, hand-washing stations or at reception and admitting. 

If you are ill, Island Health asks that you do not visit your loved ones admitted to Island Health care facilities, or who are residents of long-term care homes, until you feel better.

The best way to protect yourself and others against the flu is to get a flu shot, along with other precautions. For information on where to get immunized, free flu shot eligibility and more, please visit You can also contact your local public health unit for flu information, visit or call 8-1-1 to speak with a health professional.

Protect yourself and others: 

  • Clean your hands regularly (with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs)
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue
  • If you use a tissue, promptly dispose of it and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Stay home when you are sick

You’ve got the flu – now what?

Most people who become ill with the flu should rest at home. The elderly, young or those with chronic diseases or other health conditions should seek care early. If you or someone in your care experiences the following, seek medical care:

  • No improvement after three or four days, or symptoms worsen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration

Seek care early if you have the following concerns:

  • Heart or lung disease
  • Any chronic health concern that requires regular medical attention
  • An immune system weakened by disease or medical treatment
  • You are at risk of serious illness or complications

For an urgent medical condition, call 911 or visit your Emergency Department. If you aren’t sure about the urgency of your condition, call 8-1-1. See Visiting the Emergency Department for more information.

Flu facts:

  • Influenza (the flu) is among the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada, estimated to cause about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually. 
  • The flu is an infection of the upper airway (nose and throat) caused by the influenza virus. The flu virus spreads easily between people through breathing, coughing and sneezing.
  • Getting immunized is the best protection against the flu, and complements other prevention measures, such as hand-washing and staying home when sick.
  • Flu symptoms include fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and cough. 
  • The term "flu" is often used to describe other illnesses, such as a cold or stomach virus. Flu symptoms are usually prolonged and more severe than a cold, and do not usually include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (see Is it influenza or a cold? or Health Canada’s fact sheet)

Central/North Island media inquiries:

Dominic Abassi

Cowichan/South Island media inquiries:

Cheryl Bloxham