“The flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the flu,” said Bianca Williams, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “By getting the flu shot you’re not just protecting yourself, you’re also helping to protect those around you, including those who are most vulnerable to the flu.”
The flu vaccine is recommended for all Canadians six months and older. The vaccine protects against the influenza virus, also known as the flu, which can cause serious respiratory illness. The vaccine is particularly recommended for individuals considered at high risk of complications, including older people, pregnant women, Aboriginal peoples, people with chronic medical problems, and residents in nursing homes and long term care facilities.
“Children under five-years old, especially those who are younger than two, are also at a higher risk of complications from the flu,” added Ms. Williams. “These complications may include pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections and in rare cases, even death.” It’s estimated that 12,200 Canadians are hospitalized, and about 3,500 die, as a result of the flu each year.
The flu virus spreads easily through coughing, sneezing and direct contact with unwashed hands, surfaces, or objects that have been in contact with the flu virus. Ms. Williams explained that the flu virus can be very contagious, especially among children in child care centres and schools, as children share close quarters in these environments. Children are also more likely to get the flu, because their immune systems are not fully developed.
“To protect you and your family from the flu, it’s important to encourage everyone to wash their hands often, avoid touching their faces, and to cough and sneeze into their sleeve or a tissue.” Ms. Williams continued. “If you or a family member is sick, it’s important to stay home to avoid spreading the flu to others. Getting your yearly flu shot and following these easy tips can help to keep you and your family healthy this flu season.
The flu vaccine will be widely available throughout Durham Region, through local health care providers. Participating pharmacies will also offer the flu shot to anyone over the age of five. New this year, the Health Department will be offering flu shot clinics for infants and children six months to five-years old. To book appointments for infants and children at these clinics, please call Durham Health Connection Line, at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.
For more information about the flu or the flu vaccine, visit durham.ca/flu or call Durham Health Connection Line, at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729. To find flu shot clinics in Durham Region, visit ontario.ca/page/flu-clinics.