For many people, getting the flu can be inconvenient, yet tolerable. You feel sick for a week or so, maybe stay home to rest and then return to your old self after the illness passes.
But for others, the flu can cause serious problems that could lead to hospitalization or even death. It can affect everyone, including those who are healthy. The flu is very contagious and can spread quickly and easily through coughing, sneezing and touching common surfaces.
With the spread of the flu, there can be a risk of serious complications for vulnerable groups, particularly:
• young children
• adults aged 65 and over
• pregnant women and newborns up to 6 months and
• people with a chronic health condition.
To protect high risk family members and friends, as well as others with whom we come in contact, Health Canada is urging everyone over the age of six months to get the flu vaccine. In particular, the following people should ensure they are vaccinated as early in flu season as possible:
• Those in close contact with individuals at high risk for complications (e.g., childcare workers, health care workers, homecare workers, family and close contacts); and
• Personnel who provide services within closed or relatively closed environments with individuals at high risk (e.g., flight attendants, cruise ship employees, teachers).
In addition to getting the flu vaccine for protection, to decrease the chances of getting and spreading the flu, you should:
• wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
• cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm, not your hand
• avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes with your hands
• eat healthy foods and be active to keep your immune system strong
• keep shared surfaces and objects clean and
• stay home if you are sick and get plenty of rest.
To learn more and to find out where to get the flu vaccine, visit canada.ca/flu.