Each year, Canadians welcome fall and the vibrant spectacle of changing leaves.
But along with the changing leaves arrives another season – flu season.
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is more than just a “bad cold”. The flu is a serious respiratory infection that spreads rapidly from person-to-person and can lead to pneumonia, hospitalization and, in severe cases, even death.
Those most at risk of the flu include the elderly, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and children under 5 years of age. Not only will getting the shot help you stay well, it will help those around you who might be at greater risk.
The most common symptoms of the flu are fever and cough. The flu can leave you feeling miserably sick and bed-ridden and you will miss work or school. In most cases, individuals are sick with the flu for 2 to 10 days. If you did catch the flu, even after getting the shot, the symptoms and length of the illness are likely to be less severe.
Influenza is ranked among the top 10 infectious diseases affecting Canadians. Which is why, as Medical Officer of Health, I encourage everyone to get their free annual flu shot.
Getting your free flu shot is easier than ever. You can:
- Visit a Public Health flu clinic
- Make an appointment with your family physician
- Visit a local pharmacy
Most individuals who get vaccinated experience none or very mild side effects, which allows you to carry on with your day-to-day activities.
The flu is spread by coughing and sneezing and can travel up to six feet when released through a sneeze. And did you know that flu germs can survive on a surface for up to eight hours? That is why you can catch the virus from touching toys, phones, mobile devices or handles and door knobs.
So, in addition to getting a flu shot, you should:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or shirt sleeve instead of into your hands
- Keep hands away from your eyes, ears, nose and mouth when possible
- Stay home from work or school when sick to avoid spreading the virus to others
Will you be getting your flu shot this year?
Get protected and stay well,
Dr. Nicola Mercer
Medical Officer of Health & CEO
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health