The Coast Garibaldi Community Health Service is offering free flu vaccines for seniors or people who are high risk, on Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. "High risk" includes people who are unwell at times because of a chronic illness such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, anaemia or other diseases that weaken the immune system. As much as 40 per cent of the population could be laid low by the strains of influenza and the fever, soar throats, coughing and aching muscles that can lead to even more serious illness like pneumonia. Statistics indicate that more than 1,000 Canadians die annually as a result of influenza. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control Epidemiology has been advised of an outbreak of suspected influenza in a seniors drop in program in New Westminster. This is the first outbreak reported although a rash of respiratory illnesses in Kelowna is also under investigation. The Coast Garibaldi Community Health Service would like people to be aware that these outbreaks may be early indicators of more widespread community transmission. The flu virus is transmitted from infected people by tiny respiratory droplets created by talking, coughing and sneezing. Infected people are most contagious during the first 48 hours of illness. A flu vaccine offers up to 70 per cent protection against the strains of influenza currently in circulation. The vaccine is made with influenza viruses grown in eggs and then inactivated. Because the flu vaccine contains only killed viruses the immunization does not lead to actual infection. Instead it works by causing the immune system to make antibodies. The most common side-effect is localized soreness at the site of injection. Between one and two per cent of adults experience temporary fever and muscle aches.