When flu season hits, it almost seems like getting sick is unavoidable. This isn’t surprising since anywhere from 10 to 25 per cent of Canadians come down with the flu each year. But, a future filled with headaches, chills, cough, fever, sneezing, muscle aches and fatigue doesn’t have to be a forgone conclusion.
“It’s in our power to take preventative measures to weather the flu season in Canada,” says Greg McIntyre, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist. “Simple steps like getting the flu vaccine and following good hygiene practice will make a real impact on whether we get sick or not.”
The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. It is recommended all Canadians over the age of 6 months receive a flu shot. It is especially recommended for people at higher risk of flu-related complications including those 65 and older, children from six to 23 months of age, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, as well as people in close contact with those at high-risk. In fact, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die from the flu annually, depending on the severity of the season.
Pharmacists in many provinces in Canada are now able to immunize, so getting the vaccine is easier than ever. Fall is the best time to get vaccinated and immunization and will last roughly six months.
However, it’s important to remember that it takes two weeks for the immunization to take effect. In the meantime, there are other precautionary measures you can take to reduce your risk of getting the flu. Good hygiene practices are helpful, such as frequent hand washing for at least 10 seconds using warm water and soap, using a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and cleaning household surfaces and children’s toys regularly.
Canadians should also keep their immune system strong by eating healthy foods, being physically active, and getting enough sleep and rest. For more information on preventing a cold or flu, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.
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