by Susan Hanna
It’s flu season again, and the sooner you get your free flu shot, the sooner you will be protected.
According the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the flu shot helps strengthen your body’s natural immune response against the flu. The shot stimulates your immune system to build antibodies against the flu virus, making it stronger and ready to fight off the flu.
Who should get a flu shot? – All individuals six months of age and older, who have no reasons to not get the flu shot (see below), are encouraged to get the shot. People most at risk from the flu and its complications are those with weakened immune systems, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and family members and others who provide care to people in these categories.
Who shouldn’t get a flu shot? – Infants under six months of age and anyone with a serious allergy to any ingredient in the vaccine should not get a flu shot. Anyone who has had a previous reaction to a shot, or who has developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome within six weeks of receiving a shot should also avoid immunization. If you have a moderate or acute illness, with fever, wait until your symptoms subside before getting your shot. If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you can go ahead and get your flu shot.
Is the flu vaccine safe? – Yes. While certain flu vaccine products were temporarily pulled from distribution in October, as a precaution, they were assessed by Health Canada and no safety issues were found. All vaccines are carefully tested for safety and effectiveness.
Can a flu shot give you the flu? – No. The vaccine does not contain any ingredients that would cause the flu. At this time of year, many people come down with colds, which can be mistaken for the flu. The flu shot does not protect against the cold virus.
Where can you get a flu shot? – This year, it’s more convenient than ever to get the flu shot, because, in addition to getting it from your doctor or at a flu shot clinic, you can get in at participating pharmacies. At these pharmacies, specially trained pharmacists can administer the flu shot to people five years of age or older. Children under the age of five should receive the flu shot from a doctor or nurse.
The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit will be administering flu shots at clinics in several locations between now and December 13. For more information, visit www.healthunit.org or call 613-345-5658 or 1-800-660-5853.