Au­tumn’s here: it’s time to get your flu shot

The Daily Courier - - WESTSIDE WEEKLY -

Ev­ery year in Canada, about 12,200 peo­ple are hos­pi­tal­ized and 3,500 peo­ple die from in­fluenza or its com­pli­ca­tions.

You can help your­self and those around you stay healthy, pre­vent ill­ness and po­ten­tially save lives in one easy step – by get­ting your an­nual flu shot.

In­te­rior Health ad­vises that the flu shot is a safe and ef­fec­tive way to help pro­tect the pub­lic, es­pe­cially chil­dren, preg­nant women, se­niors, peo­ple with chronic ill­nesses, and oth­ers who are most at risk from in­fluenza and its com­pli­ca­tions.

“In­fluenza, which peo­ple of­ten call the flu, is some­times con­fused with the com­mon cold, the stom­ach flu (norovirus) or other ill­nesses caused by a virus,” said Dr. Rakel Kling, Med­i­cal Health Of­fi­cer.

“How­ever, in­fluenza is dif­fer­ent – it is a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion of the air­ways that can be quite se­vere. It is highly con­ta­gious, and is among the top 10 lead­ing causes of death in Canada.”

“The best ways to help pro­tect your­self and those around you from in­fluenza are to get im­mu­nized, wash your hands fre­quently, and to cough or sneeze into your el­bow or a tis­sue. If you are sick, stay home, and keep sick chil­dren away from day­cares and schools,” said Dr. Kling.

The flu shot pro­vides pro­tec­tion from the in­fluenza virus strains ex­pected to be cir­cu­lat­ing this sea­son based on world­wide trends iden­ti­fied by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The flu shot is free for those at risk of com­pli­ca­tions from in­fluenza and those in con­tact with peo­ple at risk. This in­cludes:

· Peo­ple 65 years and older and their care­givers/house­hold con­tacts

· Peo­ple in res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties

· Chil­dren and adults with chronic health con­di­tions and their house­hold con­tacts

· Chil­dren and ado­les­cents (six months to 18 years) with con­di­tions treated for long pe­ri­ods of time with As­pirin (ASA), and their house­hold con­tacts · Kids and adults who are mor­bidly obese · Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple · All chil­dren six to 59 months of age · House­hold con­tacts and care­givers of in­fants and chil­dren up to 59 months of age

· Preg­nant women at any stage of preg­nancy dur­ing the in­fluenza sea­son and their house­hold con­tacts

· Vis­i­tors to hospi­tals, health cen­tres and res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties · Peo­ple who work with live poul­try · Health-care and other care providers in fa­cil­i­ties and com­mu­nity set­tings who are ca­pa­ble of trans­mit­ting in­fluenza dis­ease to those at high risk of in­fluenza com­pli­ca­tions

· Peo­ple who pro­vide care or ser­vice in po­ten­tial out­break set­tings hous­ing high-risk per­sons (e.g., crews on ships)

· Peo­ple who pro­vide es­sen­tial com­mu­nity ser­vices

In­te­rior Health’s pub­lic clin­ics for those who are el­i­gi­ble for a free flu shot will be­gin in early Novem­ber.

The flu shot is also avail­able at many doc­tor’s of­fices, phar­ma­cies and walk-in clin­ics - those who are not el­i­gi­ble for the free vac­cine will be re­quired to pay a fee.

To find an in­fluenza im­mu­niza­tion clinic or provider near you, watch for lo­cal an­nounce­ments on dates and times in your com­mu­nity; or con­tact your lo­cal pub­lic health cen­tre, physi­cian of­fice or phar­macy, or check im­mu­­ics/flu.

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