They are safe — easy to get — and free for most people.
We’re talking about flu shots which are now available.
Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Silvina Mema says the shots are one of the best ways to prevent getting influenza this winter.
“Influenza can cause serious illness, and can lead to hospitalization and even death. Young children, pregnant women and seniors are at high risk of complications from influenza,” says Mema.
The infection spreads when a person comes into contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
Washing your hands regularly and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve are ways to prevent its spread.
“Staying home when you’re ill and properly disposing of any tissues you may have used, will also help,” says Mema.
The flu shot is free for the following people:
People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts;
People of any age in long-term 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;
Children and adults who are morbidly obese;
All children six to 59 months of age;
Household contacts and caregivers of infants and children from birth 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 long-term 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); and
People who provide essential community services (first responders, corrections workers).
“People often confuse influenza with the common cold, but they are not the same and are caused by different viruses. A cold is usually a milder illness that can make you uncomfortable for a few days,” says Dr. Mema. “In contrast, flu symptoms are more debilitating, and potentially life threatening to those at risk of complications.”
You can also reduce your risk of illness by preventing the spread of germs.
· Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially after coughing or sneezing;
· Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue;
· Stay home if you are sick; and
· If your children are sick, keep them home from daycare and schools.