IT’S FLU SEASON AGAIN – LEARN HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Fever, cough, severe body aches and exhaustion. These are the common symptoms of the flu. Most people who get the flu recover within 7 to 10 days. For others, recovery may take longer or complications may occur. The flu is one of the top 10 causes of death in Canada. It leads to an estimated 12,200 hospital stays and 3,500 deaths every year. So it’s important that we all learn how to prevent the flu.
PREVENTING THE FLU IS BEST
The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu and can even reduce the risk of flu-related symptoms and complications. It can also help you protect others, including those who can’t get the flu shot (like infants and people with underlying conditions), because when you’re vaccinated you are less likely to spread the virus to those around you. “If you’re vaccinated and still get the flu, your symptoms may be less severe and you’re likely to be less sick,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. “Similarly, with the shot, you’re less likely to suffer from serious complications from the flu.”
YOU NEED A NEW SHOT EVERY YEAR TO STAY PROTECTED
Flu viruses are constantly changing. Throughout the year, the World Health Organization and global partners track the types of flu viruses that change as they circulate around the world. Based on this information, a new annual vaccine is produced.
HEALTHY HABITS COMPLEMENT AN ANNUAL FLU SHOT
The flu spreads when a person infected with the virus sneezes, coughs or talks and releases tiny droplets that contain the virus. These droplets can be breathed in by someone else or land on a surface that another person touches, like the handle of a shopping cart, a doorknob or a phone. “The flu is extremely contagious,” says Dr. Tam. “You can actually spread the flu to others one day before you start showing symptoms, or feel sick. And you can still spread the flu approximately five days after your first symptoms appear.” In addition to getting the flu shot, you can protect yourself and those around you by practicing these healthy habits:
• wash your hands often
• cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm, not into your hand
• avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes with your hands
• clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that a lot of people touch
• if you do get sick, stay home and avoid contact with others until your symptoms are gone
THE FLU IS SERIOUS FOR ADULTS 65 AND OVER
Adults 65+ are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications. As you age, your immune system changes, making it harder to fight off infections. In addition, other health conditions can worsen with the flu, increasing the risk of flu-related complications. Some complications from the flu, like pneumonia, can have serious consequences, such as breathing problems, severe dehydration and even death. Recent studies indicate that having the flu on top of a chronic cardiovascular condition can increase the risk of a heart attack. Getting the flu shot can be lifesaving.
GET YOUR FLU SHOT EARLY
It can take up to two weeks for the flu shot to protect you. Getting the flu shot as early as possible in the season is your best defence. With the flu shot, you can protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community. To learn more and to find out where to get your flu shot, talk to a healthcare professional or visit