Your best defense against the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine. There are a number of ways to prevent the flu, including flu vaccination, frequent handwashing, sanitizing household surfaces and children’s toys, and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.
Who should get a flu vaccination?
Every Canadian over the age of six months should get an annual flu vaccination. Even young, healthy people can get the flu and become seriously ill. The flu vaccination is the best way to help prevent catching or spreading the flu. Even if you had a flu vaccination last year, you need to get a flu vaccination again this year, because the flu virus changes often. The flu vaccine is especially important for:
Children aged 6-23 months
- Adults and children with chronic heart and lung disease and chronic conditions such as diabetes, anemia, cancer, HIV or kidney disease
- People living in a nursing home
- People aged 65 and over
- Children and adolescents on long-term aspirin (ASA) therapy
- Healthy pregnant women
- Healthcare workers; caregivers
Who should NOT get a flu vaccine?
People who should not get the flu vaccine include:
- Children under six months
- People with severe allergic reaction to eggs or who had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past
- Those dealing with an acute illness, an infection or a fever. You should postpone the flu shot until you are in better health.
- Those currently taking theophylline or its derivatives (these are often used for the treatment of asthmaor chronic respiratory conditions)
Other important ways to prevent the flu
There are other important ways to help prevent catching or spreading the flu. These include:
- Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle
- Wash your hands frequently, and for at least 10 seconds, using warm water and soap
- When soap and water are not available, use an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer
- Use a tissue when you sneeze or cough and throw away used tissues and wash your hands immediately
- If a tissue is not available, sneeze or cough into your elbow or upper arm to avoid spreading germs to your hands
- Clean household surfaces and children’s toys often
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if you think you may have come in contact with flu germs
- Don’t share drinking glasses or eating utensils
- Give each family member his/her own towel
- Try to avoid crowds during the flu season
- If you have the flu, stay at home