Flu season 2018-19: it’s time to get your ‘flu shot
Have you had your flu shot yet? With cases of flu already being reported, the best way to avoid catching influenza this season is to get immunized now. Up to 10% of adults and 30% of children catch flu every year in Canada. In 2017, the Influenza A H3N2 virus strain contributed to a particularly severe flu season that saw a rise in hospital admissions.
Why getting the flu shot is important
Flu is a nasty virus that anyone can catch. It’s also very contagious and is easily spread. The virus changes from year to year, appearing in different types (strains) so even if you got the flu last year, you’re not protected agains this year’s flu viruses. The same applies if you had a flu shot last year; it will no longer be effective.
The flu season is officially from late fall to early spring, but this is when it’s at its height, and the flu shot takes two weeks to take effect. So, the best way to protect yourself from catching it in the first place is to get your flu jab early. This allows your system to build up resistance to the various strains of the virus the shot immunises you against, before the main season starts.
How to get your flu shot
In Ontario, vaccination against influenza (the flu shot or flu jab) is available for free from your doctor or nurse practitioner. It’s also available from own in-house Rexall pharmacy here at AMG.
At Rexall, you can get the flu shot any time, any day, subject to vaccine availability. You’ll need to complete a Influenza Informed Consent form, which you can download here. Also allow ten minutes or so after your flu shot before leaving the Rexall pharmacy.
Is the flu shot safe?
The flu shot is safe for all ages, including seniors, children over the age of 5, pregnant women or those breastfeeding. Most adults will require a single flu shot. If you have children aged six months to eight years who have never had the flu shot before, they may require two doses of vaccine, at least four weeks apart.
If you are allergic to eggs, make sure you tell your doctor or pharmacist when booking a flu vaccination. This is because the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) uses eggs in the vaccine creation process.
If you are uncertain if the flu shot is suitable for you due to a previous reaction or specific health issues, consult your GP or pharmacist, who can advise you.
For more details on the 2018-19 flu vaccine, call the Rexall pharmacy at AMG London on 519-679-9921.
Can you catch flu from the flu shot?
In a word, no. You cannot catch flu from the flu shot. According to the The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI):
“Influenza vaccine cannot cause influenza illness because the inactivated influenza vaccines do not contain live virus and the viruses in live attenuated influenza vaccines are weakened so that they cannot cause influenza.”
Flu: a serious illness
Flu can be very serious, especially as it may lead to complications such as pneumonia. Flu is responsible for over 12,000 admissions to hospital and 3,500 deaths in Canada every year. Those who are at more risk from the effects of the virus are:
- babies under 6 months (who can’t have the flu shot)
- children under five years
- seniors aged over 65
- pregnant women
- those with ongoing health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease
Symptoms of flu
You can catch flu from someone who already has it, or who may no show any symptoms yet. Between one and four days after being exposed to the virus, you may have symptoms including:
- a high fever, which may run for up to four days
- aches and pains in your joints and muscles
- feeling weak, tired and fatigued – this might last for up to three weeks
- coughing and/or a sore throat
Most healthy people will recover from flu within 10-14 days. If your symptoms persist for longer, or you are in a high risk group, consult your doctor.
How to get through the flu
The best ways to get over the flu is to stay at home, keep warm, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and avoid caffeine, alcohol and stop smoking. You can also speak to a pharmacist or doctor about over-the-counter pain and fever relief tablets.
How to avoid spreading flu
Flu is spread through droplets of fluids from a person with the flu entering your system. If a person with flu coughs, sneezes or even talks, these droplets can land on surfaces from desks and phones to door handles and countertops. The virus can live on these surfaces for at least 8 hours, and on some for as many as 24 hours.
If you have flu, the best way to stop the spread of flu is to stay home. Far better for you and your colleagues that just one of you gets flu, rather than trying to be a hero, going to work, and give your flu to the entire office, school or business!
Even if you are at home, carry a packet of tissues ready to cough or sneeze into, and throw away each used tissue immediately. Wipe down surfaces, handles and shared items regularly with an anti-bacterial surface cleaner.
Washing your hands is one of the best ways to remove any virus picked up on your skin from contaminated surfaces. Wash for at least 15 seconds using soap and water, and dry on a clean towel or using a air hand dryer. Carry a tube of hand sanitiser gel in your pocket for those times when soap and water isn’t available.
How to get your flu shot for 2018-19
For more details on the 2018-19 flu shot and vaccine availability: