Flu Shots

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by Susan Hanna

After summer comes fall…and flu season. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu is to get a flu shot. Here are some flu shot facts from Almonte General Hospital (AGH) Director of Special Services Rena Bowen, RN.

Why you should get a flu shot – “I hear people say they don’t need to get a flu shot because they never get the flu,”says Ms Bowen. “However, the purpose of flu shots is to prevent vulnerable people from getting the flu and perhaps dying from complications from it. So it is important for everyone to get a flu shot. Having good hand hygiene in combination with getting the flu vaccine protects everyone during flu season.”

Who is most vulnerable to the flu? – “Those who are at particular risk from the flu and its complications are young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems,”says Ms Bowen. “People in these categories, as well, anyone caring for them, should get a flu shot.”

Who should avoid flu shots -" If you are under six months of age, have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine, are allergic to eggs, or think you might be, talk to your doctor before getting a flu shot,” says Ms Bowen. “There may be a safe way for you to get the shot, such as taking it in two doses in some instances. My understanding is that research is ongoing and close to developing a flu vaccine that is not incubated in eggs.”

You can’t get the flu from a flu shot – “It is not possible to get the flu from a flu shot because the vaccine does not use a live virus,” explains Ms. Bowen. “You may have some redness or warmth around the injection site, and soreness or stiffness in your arm. Treat this like any minor ache, by taking a pain reliever.”

Where to get your flu shot – The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit will be administering flu shots at 17 clinics between October 24 and December 1, 2011. The Almonte clinic takes place October 24 from 1-7:30 p.m. at the Almonte Civitan Hall. For information about other dates and locations, visit www.healthunit.org. You can also get a flu shot from your family physician. Flu shots are free of charge.

Protecting patients and residents – Ms Bowen co-ordinates the annual flu shot campaign at AGH and Fairview Manor. This includes encouraging all patients, residents, staff, volunteers and hysicians to get the flu shot. “We are very committed to making sure we do everything we need to do to protect our patients and residents,” she said.