# Tuesday, October 10, 2006
                 

Flu Shots For Canadians

Once again, it is that time of year that Canadians are vulnerable to influenza. "Flu" season typically starts in November and ends in April. The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which causes a respiratory infection. Although the majority of Canadians recover from the flu, for some it can be potentially fatal. Pneumonia and other serious complications can set in, caused by influenza, causing serious medical problems.

Many Canadians are confused about what influenza actually is, and when they have it. Many times people misconstrue their symptoms of mild food poisoning as the stomach flu, which actually does not exist. The common cold can also be construed as the flu. Influenza typically has symptoms beginning with a headache, cough and chills, followed by a fever, runny nose and sneezing, and watery eyes. Loss of appetite is also common. Children may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

There are certain populations that have been designated "high risk" and as such, are encouraged to receive yearly flu shots. This includes people who fall into one or  more of the following categories:

  • Infants 6-23 months.
  • Anyone with chronic heart and/or lung disease.
  • Anyone residing in nursing homes or chronic care facilities.
  • Anyone working in a health care related field with chronic exposure to the flu virus.
  • Anyone traveling to areas with a flu outbreak.
  • Anyone with diabetes, anemia, cancer, immune suppression, kidney disease or HIV
    Children on ASA therapy.

Those who should not get the flu shot:

  • Under 6 months of age.
  • Anyone who has a severe allergic reaction to eggs.
  • Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu shot.

The flu shot can have some minimal side effects, the most common being soreness at the injection site. Fever, fatigue, and muscle aches are also common. These side effects are temporary, usually only lasting 1-2 days.

Consult your family physician about whether the flu shot is an option for you. For those who do not have a family physician, and wish to receive the flu shot, consult http://www.gov.on.ca for resources in your area.

It is important to remember that those showing symptoms of the flu need to avoid infecting others, especially those who are very young or very old who may become seriously ill if infected. If you suspect that you may be becoming ill, avoid anyone who falls into the high risk category. During flu season wash your hands frequently as a means of reducing your chances of catching the virus.
 

RSS 2.0