Influenza

Keeping my family happy & healthy with the flu shot

Ontario Flu Vaccine

Prior to last March, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the last time I had the flu. I never really made getting the flu shot a priority. I’m not considered high-risk, and none of my family members are either, so it’s not something I had thought a lot about.

But that changed at the end of last winter when I did catch the flu and I was sicker than I could ever remember. I had to miss five days of work, was not able to care for my family, could not have any close contact with my daughter for over a week and I was really scared that I was seriously ill.

When I could barely take a breath and my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it, I knew it was time to seek medical attention.  I was really worried that I had pneumonia but after a chest X-ray, that fear was diminished. Unfortunately, with the flu, there is nothing that can be done to “cure” it.  Needless to say, it was one of the worst weeks of my life and I vowed to myself that I would never let that happen again.

FLU 101

With my daughter as my main concern I decided to do some research into influenza and the flu vaccine to prepare for the 2016 flu season and what I learned was quite interesting:

  • Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization and even death
  • People experience a number of symptoms, including:
  • Fever
  • general aches and pains
  • Extreme fatigue
  • For some people the flu can lead to complications, such as pneumonia
  • The flu is spread by coughing, sneezing, talking and from hands and surfaces contaminated with the virus
  • In Canada, influenza generally occurs each year in the late fall and winter months. Anyone can get the flu. Even healthy individuals can become seriously ill with the flu
  • Young children, especially those under 5, are at higher risk of serious illness, and even death, from the flu
  • School-age children are most likely to spread the virus due to their close proximity to other children at school
  • The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces. A sneeze can spread the virus up to 2 metres (6 feet) away
  • The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu.

FLU VACCINE 101

With the scary statistics and my past experience, I came to the conclusion that the flu shot was a must for my family; again, I wanted to do some research and I learned even more interesting and vital facts. You can visit ontario.ca/flu to dig a little deeper, but below, I have highlighted some of the important information I discovered.

  • Getting the flu shot is your best defense against getting the flu; if you do get the flu after receiving the shot, it can reduce the severity of your symptoms
  • You cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
  • The flu virus is pretty smart and may change year to year; the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and is updated, when necessary, to match the virus strains that the World Health Organization believes will circulate during the upcoming influenza season. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated every year!

GETTING YOUR FLU SHOT

I absolutely love how easy the Ontario government makes it for families to get their flu shots. Simply visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-flu-shot/, enter your location (or enable location services) and a list of pharmacies and other locations will display to show you where you can go to get your free vaccine.

I encourage you to take a look at the Ontario Flu site to find out all the information that you need to make an informed and healthy decision for your family.

Here’s to happy and healthy flu season!

City Mom

This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions are my own.

 

10 Misconceptions About the Flu Shot

Flu Shot

Photographer: Ambro

It’s that time of year…flu time. Good-bye St. Nick, hello Influenza!   

With the pesky virus making its way across Canada, it’s a good time to look into the vaccination.   

I found a handy little pamphlet at the doctor’s office this week. It came armed with 10 rebuttals to 10 common misconceptions about the flu vaccine:   

“It’s just a little flu. No need to worry.”   

Fact: 4,000 to 8,000 people die from the flu or complications each year in Canada.   

“I don’t need the flu shot, I never get sick!”   

Fact: One in four Canadians is infected with the flu each year. You can be a carrier of the virus without experiencing symptoms. If you’re carrying it you can pass it on.   

“The flu vaccine doesn’t work.”   

Fact: 10 – 15 % of those vaccinated will not develop the immunity to the flu, but it will help to lessen the severity.   

“The flu shot can give you the flu.”   

Fact: The vaccine actually only contains a dead form of the virus and it cannot cause infection.   

“I got the flu shot last year. I don’t need it this year.”   

Fact: The flu virus changes from year to year so a new vaccine is created by researches.   

“The flu vaccine often causes serious side effects.”   

Fact: There are risks associated with the flu vaccine, just like there are risks with all medicines. The risk is actually very low and most only suffer from fever, fatigue and muscle aches; these usually only last 48 hours.   

The greater risk often talked about is an autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).Your chance of developing GBS from the flu shot is one in a million and most patients suffering from this illness usually fully recover.   

“The flu vaccine is dangerous because it contains mercury!”   

Fact: The flu vaccine, like all other vaccines, goes through safety requirement testing. These requirements are strict and each lot is safety-tested by the manufacturer and by Health Canada.   

The vaccine does include a preservative called thimersol which has a small amount of mercury. It is said that the amount of mercury found in thimersol is so small that it does not build up in the body, and is a lot less toxic than other forms of mercury.Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization says that there is no reason to avoid the flu vaccine.   

“I’m just too busy to get the flu shot. It’s so inconvenient.”   

Fact: There are many flu shot clinics open across the country. You can also arrange to have a clinic come to your workplace, or make an appointment with your doctor.   

“It’s too late to get the flu shot now, the flu season is almost over.”   

Fact: The Canadian flu season runs from November to April. Even though the best time to get the vaccine is between October and December, receiving it at any point in the season can help protect you against the virus.   

“I did some research online, and I just don’t trust the flu shot.”   

Fact: We all know that we can’t always trust the information we find online. To identify a trustworthy site be sure that it contains:   

  • Author/company’s name
  • Author/organization’s perspective
  • Solid evidence is provided
  • Lots of detail and original content
  • Up-to-date information
  • Revision date clearly stated
  • Author’s interest in sharing content
  • No bias or conflict of interest
  • A balanced perspective
  • A clear statement that health information should not substitute visiting a health care professional

We have chosen to vaccinate little S again this year. Last year we fell victim to the media frenzy surrounding H1N1 and decided after much research to protect her. With a family history of Asthma and the number of ER visits we’ve already made in S’s short lifetime for respiratory problems, we can’t be too careful.   

Have you received the flu shot this season? Have you vaccinated your children? What are your thoughts on vaccines?   

*Note: this health information should not be taken as health advice or a substitute for visiting a health professional.  Information gathered from 10 Things “They” Say About the Flu Vaccine…and 10 Reasons Why They’re Wrong pamphlet.

City Mom

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