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Protect Yourself and Others – Get Your Annual Flu Shot

Oct 28, 2013
People often describe a variety of different ailments, from sneezes to stomach upsets, with the catch-all term “the flu.” But the real flu – influenza – is a serious respiratory illness that can leave you feeling very unwell and missing work or school for up to seven days.

People often describe a variety of different ailments, from sneezes to stomach upsets, with the catch-all term “the flu.” But the real flu – influenza – is a serious respiratory illness that can leave you feeling very unwell and missing work or school for up to seven days. For vulnerable people like infants, the elderly and those with other medical conditions, the cough, considerable body aches and general fatigue of influenza can degenerate into life-threatening complications.

Every winter, thousands of Canadians come down with influenza because it spreads so easily from person to person. The good news is there are measures we can take to protect ourselves and our families from getting sick.

The best way to reduce your risk of contracting the virus is through yearly immunization. The influenza vaccine is a safe and effective way of preventing the spread of illness. We can also help to prevent the spread of influenza by practising good hand hygiene. The flu virus can easily be spread by touching objects after coughing or sneezing.

It is estimated that the flu results in an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 to 8,000 deaths in Canada each year. On the other hand, in Ontario, where the influenza vaccine has been available free since 2000, it prevents an estimated 30,000 emergency room visits, 1,000 hospitalizations and 300 deaths per year.

Receiving the flu vaccination in the fall or early winter will provide you with protection for the flu season. The vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months, including pregnant women in all stages of pregnancy. The vaccine is required every year, because influenza viruses frequently change and because the protection provided by the vaccine doesn’t last more than one year.

There are many ways your family may receive their influenza vaccines this year:

Public flu clinics will again be run across Simcoe Muskoka on every Wednesday and Saturday during the month of November. Appointments can be booked online;

  • Healthcare providers have influenza vaccine on hand for their patients; and
  • Participating pharmacies and pharmacists across Ontario will be offering the flu shot to clients. You can find a pharmacy offering the vaccine near you on the website www.ontario.ca/flu.

For more information about the importance of getting immunized, or to book an appointment for your flu shot from the health unit, please visit simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) and speak with a public health nurse.

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Dr. Simon is one of Simcoe Muskoka’s associate medical officers of health.


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