It's that time of the year again... PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE FLU!
What is the flu?
The flu (or influenza) is a highly contagious infection that is caused by a virus. It can be transmitted from droplets present in the secretions of the nose or throat of a sick person or from objects that have been in contact with infected people.
It can cause a variety of symptoms: fever, fatigue, cough, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Why get vaccinated against the flu?
Vaccination allows your body to produce antibodies to fight the flu virus. It also reduces the risk of serious associated complications such as pneumonia, otitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, hospitalization and death.
Vaccination helps to better protect YOU from the flu, but also to protect people from your ENTOURAGE (especially those who are at greater risk of complications from the flu).
For whom is vaccination recommended?
The flu vaccine is indicated for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting the flu. Vaccination is highly recommended yearly in people who are at higher risk for complications associated with influenza:
Children aged 6 to 23 months and persons aged 60 and over;
People with chronic diseases (eg diabetes, immune disorder, respiratory illness);
Pregnant women with certain chronic diseases;
Healthy women who are in their 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy;
Surrounding the populations mentioned above;
Entourage of children under 6 months;
People living in certain remote communities.
Vaccines formulations of the Southern Hemisphere are not available in Canada, and vaccines administered in Canada may not be effective in some countries. It is still recommended that all travelers be vaccinated against influenza before traveling.
Note, the flu usually occurs:
• Northern Hemisphere: Between November and April
• Southern Hemisphere: Between April and October
• Tropical countries: All year long
Where should I get vaccinated?
For North Americans, the vaccination campaign usually starts at the beginning of November. Vaccination is free for people at high risk of complications associated with the flu and their families. International travelers should get the updated vaccine before traveling.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
Injectable flu vaccine most often causes a small reaction at the injection site (pain, redness, swelling) and symptoms that are similar to those of the flu. Very rarely, vaccines can cause an allergic reaction (less than 1 in 1000 people) or Guillain-Barré syndrome (about 1 in 1 million people). For this reason, you will be advised to stay on site for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine. Thus, if an allergic reaction occurs, it can be treated immediately on site.
If you experience any side effects, you can use a fever or pain medication as needed (eg, acetaminophen, ibuprofen). If you have a reaction at the injection site, you can apply a cold wet compress for symptom relief.
Remember to consult a doctor if you have severe symptoms, if your symptoms worsen or if they last more than 48 hours.
What about its effectiveness?
Influenza viruses change often, and a new vaccine is developed each year to include the virus strains that are expected to be most prevalent during the influenza season. The vaccine prevents the flu in about 40 to 60% of people in good health. In general, the vaccine is fully effective 2 weeks after administration and provides protection for at least 6 months. You should know that the flu vaccine only protects strains of the virus that it contains. Thus, if the circulating virus is not what was expected, it is still possible to catch the flu. Also, the flu vaccine does not protect against colds or respiratory infections caused by other viruses.
Are there other ways to protect yourself against the flu?
Certainly! You can reduce the risk of transmission by following the following hygiene measures:
Wash your hands often;
Clean your environment regularly with water and soap or household detergent;
Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth;
Cough or sneeze in a tissue or in the fold of your elbow;
Discard any used tissue directly in the trash and wash your hands after;
Avoid being in contact with sick people;
Stay at home if you have flu symptoms (unless you have to go for a medical consultation) and avoid visiting people at risk of complications.
Protect yourself and protect your surroundings!