Why take influenza (flu) vaccine every year?
“The flu” is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. Up to 10% Canada’s population is affected by influenza every year. Pandemic influenza can affect up to 35% of the population. It can be life threatening for individuals with high-risk conditions.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. The vaccine protects against respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. New strains of influenza appear each year. Each season’s vaccine is designed to protect against at least three strains of influenza that are expected for that season.
Apart from protecting ourselves, we should consider the benefits of vaccination to the family and the community around us. A person who is vaccinated against a disease cannot spread that disease to other people. It is also more important in healthcare settings, and nursing homes to help protect the individuals who cannot be immunized for health reasons.
Influenza vaccine is available in two forms: injectable or inhaled. Individuals who have adverse reactions to the vaccine must consult their healthcare professional before taking the vaccine in the following year.
Signs and Symptoms of Flu:
These include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle aches and pains, and extreme fatigue.
Personal Preparedness for the flu season:
- If you are sick, stay at home, because you may contaminate others.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth so the germs do not go out into the air.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching keyboards, phones, doorknobs, etc. Use hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitizers.
- Keep your bare hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Eat nutritious food, drink lots of fluid, get good sleep, reduce stress, and be physically active.
Gita Mishra, RN.