Please get your in­fluenza shot

The McLeod River Post - - Family, Farm & Garden - Caitlin Vance RN BScN Grande Prairie Pub­lic Health Al­berta Health Ser­vices

Be­ing sick is never fun, but many con­fuse in­fluenza with the com­mon cold or stom­ach flu. In­fluenza is char­ac­ter­ized by a high fever, cough­ing, headache, mus­cle aches, loss of ap­petite and fa­tigue. It can last up to a cou­ple weeks and may lead to hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, or in rare cases, death.

Over a six-month pe­riod last sea­son, more than 1,600 Al­ber­tans were hos­pi­tal­ized and 64 Al­ber­tans died with in­fluenza. In­fluenza causes more emer­gency de­part­ment vis­its than heart at­tacks and strokes, not to men­tion sig­nif­i­cant down­time from work and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties.

It is rec­om­mended that ev­ery­one aged six months and older re­ceive the in­fluenza im­mu­niza­tion. Some peo­ple are at greater risk of con­tract­ing in­fluenza, in­clud­ing any­one un­der the age of five, over 65 years of age, have a pre-ex­ist­ing health con­di­tion or are preg­nant.

The in­fluenza virus is spread through the air. Cough­ing, sneez­ing and even talk­ing can cause the virus to get into the air. A per­son then breathes the air and in­hales the virus. Touch­ing ob­jects that have been in con­tact with the virus can also spread in­fluenza. Wash your hands reg­u­larly and cover your cough and sneezes to help re­duce your risk.

Vac­cines help you build the an­ti­bod­ies needed to fight the virus. Get­ting the in­fluenza vac­cine is your first line of de­fense. It low­ers your risk of get­ting in­fluenza by about half. If you do get in­fluenza af­ter get­ting the shot, it won’t be as se­vere. You will also help pre­vent the spread of in­fluenza to oth­ers. Re­mem­ber, pro­tec­tion starts about two weeks af­ter you get the vac­cine.

Free in­fluenza im­mu­niza­tion is avail­able through Al­berta Health Ser­vices In­fluenza Im­mu­niza­tion Clin­ics, now un­til the end of March. To find your lo­cal clinic sched­ule, visit in­fluenza or call Health Link at 811.

Many phar­ma­cies and physi­cians are also of­fer­ing in­fluenza im­mu­niza­tions. Call ahead to see if your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist of­fers this ser­vice.

For more in­for­ma­tion on in­fluenza and var­i­ous other health re­lated top­ics, visit my­ or call Health Link at 811.

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