What’s all the Fuss About the Flu?
Every fall we are encouraged to get our flu shot. In fact, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends all Canadians 6 months of age and older be immunized against influenza. But misinformation often prevents people from accessing this important part of a healthy winter. Read along to get the facts.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. In Canada, it kills 3,500 people every year. New strains of influenza appear every year which is why an annual shot is recommended. Your flu shot CANNOT give you the flu. Influenza vaccines are safe and reduce the spread of flu viruses. Many people confuse the cold with influenza. Here’s a chart to help determine if it’s a cold or the flu.
What is the flu shot?
The flu shot is a vaccine administered to create antibodies that provide the best protection against the influenza virus. The vaccine contains inactive (killed) flu viruses to produce an immune response without causing infection.
How can I get the flu?
The flu is transmitted by droplet contact like coughing, sneezing, unclean hands and even talking. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and if you are sick, cover your nose and mouth while practicing good hand hygiene.
When should I get my flu shot?
Get the flu shot by the end of October as flu activities can start as early as October and peak between December and February. Since it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies, getting vaccinated in time helps protect and prevent the spreading of flu viruses.
Contact your family doctor or ask about getting a flu shot when you are visiting the Portage Medical Family Health Team.
References and Related Links
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
Information gathered and prepared by L. Ogbor
Registered Nurse, Portage Medical Family Health Team