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The flu vaccine & you

October 12, 2010

Why seasonal flu vaccination matters

As anyone who’s ever caught influenza (flu) knows, it’s nasty – and highly contagious. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headaches, muscle ache, chills and fatigue, plus possible nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although the 10% to 25% of Canadians who catch it each season usually recover within 10 days, others experience more severe symptoms.

  • Flu is responsible for hospitalizing 20,000 Canadians per year;
  • Depending on the severity of the flu season, the illness causes between 2,000 and 8,000 deaths per year in Canada.

Who should get vaccinated

The flu vaccine protects you – as well as everyone around you. Everyone over the age of six months who can get vaccinated should do so. Combined with regular hand washing, immunization is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your fellow Canadians, from influenza.

Who can’t get vaccinated?

Some individuals cannot receive the flu immunization. They include:

  • People allergic to eggs and egg products;
  • Infants under six months of age;
  • People who’ve had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination;
  • People with Guillan-Barré syndrome;
  • Anyone with a fever (postpone getting vaccinated until you’re well).

Because certain segments of the population can’t get vaccinated, it’s important that those who can, do. This reduces everyone’s risk.

What’s new for 2010-2011?

A few innovations are available to help make protecting yourself and your family more convenient than ever.

TWO VACCINES IN ONE: In order to reduce the risk of all types of influenza this year, the 2010-2011 seasonal vaccine includes protection against the H1N1 flu strain and the seasonal influenza flu strain.

SHORT NEEDLES: For those (aged 18 to 59 years) who wish to avoid the pain of injection, a new shorter needle is available.

NASAL SPRAYS For those (aged 2 to 49 years) who wish to avoid needles, nasal mist vaccines deliver protection with one gentle spray per nostril. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss which option is best for your and your family.

Possible side effects

Temporary side effects (lasting one to two days) from the flu shot may include:

  • Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection spot
  • Fever
  • Aches

Temporary side effects from the nasal-mist vaccine may include:

IN CHILDREN:

  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle ache
  • Fever

IN ADULTS:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
However, most people who get the flu vaccine experience no side effects at all.

When and where to get your flu vaccination

Try to get your flu vaccination between October and December (although late immunization is better than none at all!). You can get your vaccination at:

  • A Shoppers Drug Mart flu immunization clinic in the provinces of BC, AB, ON and NB. To find the a store near you, please call 1-800-SHOPPERs
  • Your doctor’s office;
  • Walk-in clinics;
  • A workplace or community flu immunization clinic.

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