From The Hip: Get your influenza shot, not the flu
for Smoky River Express
I’ve always been a strong advocate and supporter of getting the flu shot, and this year won’t be any different.
With the arrival of the influenza season just around the corner, many of us will be considering once again whether to get the shot or roll the dice in the hope that we’re spared the agonizing symptoms which traditionally accompany the flu bug.
Influenza, commonly known by most of us as the flu, is a highly contagious infection of the airways caused by the influenza virus.
“Some people think that influenza is a mild illness, but it can be a very serious illness in some people,” says Dr. Susan Bowles, chair of Immunize Canada.
“While most people recover within a week or two, people over 65 years of age and children or adults with underlying chronic conditions can have more serious complications like pneumonia.”
According to Immunize Canada, approximately 10 to 20 per cent of the Canadian population is infected annually with influenza.
The highest rates of influenza infection are seen in children, but rates of serious illness and death are highest in older persons and those with underlying medical conditions.
Other groups at high risk include pregnant women, people who are morbidly obese, people living in nursing homes and Aboriginal peoples.
“The most effective way to protect yourself from getting influenza is to get vaccinated,” states Dr. Bowles.
“It is a safe and effective way to prevent spreading the virus where you live, work and play.”
Studies show the influenza immunization reduces the number of hospitalizations and visits to health care providers and is effective in preventing influenza-associated deaths.
“People who do not get immunized are at risk of infection from the influenza virus and can also infect others,” says Dr. Shelly McNeil, vice-chair of Immunize Canada.
When you make influenza immunization an annual event, you not only protect yourself, but you also help protect your family and our communities from infection & illness.
Beginning mid-October, Influenza Immunization will be offered, free of charge, to all Albertans six months of age and older.
Alberta Health Servics will be posting complete clinic schedules online beginning on or before October 1, 2012. Once available, we'll also be posting the information here in the Express.
The best time to get immunized against influenza is October through to December, bearing in mind that it’s never too late to be immunized during the course of influenza season.
Do yourself a favour, and those around you, by getting your flu shot this fall. Your body will thank you and so will everyone else!