Canada's Condominium Magazine

Flu season is almost on us: tips from Doctors; washing frequently; flu symptoms; and the flu vaccine

As the temperature drops and the seasons change, a growing number of people prepare to get their annual flu shots. Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus, and those who do not get the flu vaccine are at risk for catching it. Unlike other vaccines, it needs to be administered annually, as each year’s flu strain is different. The vaccine protects against the current strain and will protect throughout the flu season, which typically lasts through April.

Doctors encourage everyone to get the flu shot, which is provided free of charge at pharmacies and clinics, to protect themselves and those around them from the flu. Pediatricians also recommend administering two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart, to babies and children nine years of age and younger who have not previously received flu vaccines.

 

People who have a tremendous amount of contact with others, such as at work or school, are especially vulnerable to flu outbreaks. Children are most at risk as the flu spreads through contact with their classmates, playground equipment, desks, etc. Many do not realize they have the flu for the first few days, during which time they have had ample opportunity to spread it to anyone close to them or anyone who touches the same surfaces.

Doctors highly recommend the vaccine to anyone who is at risk of compilations from the flu, such as pregnant women, young children, and people aged 65 and over. People who have chronic heart conditions, those with asthma or other lung disorders, or other illnesses are especially at risk during flu season. Severe complications can arise from the onset of influenza for those who are already chronically ill. If untreated, the patient may develop pneumonia, which can be life-threatening for those with already compromised immune systems.

 

The flu vaccine is completely safe for healthy individuals. However, it is not necessaryfor everyone, and options should be discussed with your doctor prior to receiving the vaccine if you have any questions or concerns. Infants under the age of six months will not benefit from the vaccine, as they are too young. The vaccine simply will not have any effect on them. Patients with an allergy to thimerosal should request a thimerosal-free vaccine.

If you are considering the flu vaccine, you may be wondering if you should go for the shot or the nasal spray. As with the shot, children under the age of nine who have not previously received the vaccine should be given two doses, also four weeks apart. Any allergies and illnesses should be discussed with your doctor to ensure that the vaccine and the method you have chosen are right for you and your family.

Additional measures can be taken to prevent the spread of influenza. These include washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Above all, stay home and take proper care of yourself if you become ill. The following flu symptoms should be noted:

Sore Throat and Muscles
Fever
Chills
Headache
Cough
Watery Eyes
Stuffy/Runny Noses
Fatigue and Weakness
Loss of Appetite

Further information can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website and fact sheet.

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