SIMCOE, OCTOBER 18, 2010 – Flu season is once again upon us. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is encouraging residents to receive their free vaccine to help prevent personal illness and the spread of the flu virus in our region.
In Canada, flu season usually runs from November to April and affects millions of Canadians each year. Because the flu virus changes often it is necessary to get the flu shot every year, for protection against the new virus strains that may be circulating that year.
“Last year the H1N1 strain of the flu virus was circulating and may still be circulating this year,” said Rose Huyge, Public Health Nurse for the Vaccine Preventable Disease Program at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “This year’s flu vaccine will provide protection from H1N1 as well as two other strains of flu expected to be circulating in our communities.”
The benefits of flu shots far outweigh the risks. The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza because it does not contain any live virus. The most common side effect is soreness at the site of injection, which may last a couple of days. You might also notice fever, fatigue and muscle aches within six to 12 hours after the shot, and these effects may last a day or two. Severe reaction to flu shots is rare.
Flu vaccines are available, and safe, for anyone over 6 months of age. Children under 9 years of age who have never had a flu shot will need two doses of the vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart.
The virus spreads through droplets, which have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who has the flu. The flu virus is also found on the hands of people with the flu and on surfaces that they have touched.
“It is very important to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing,” noted Huyge. “Being careful not to share utensils or towels, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, will help prevent the spread of the virus.”
People who have the flu may have a fever, chills, cough, runny eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and fatigue. Children can also have earaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The cough and fatigue can persist for several weeks, making return to full personal and work activities difficult.
While most people recover from the flu within a week to ten days, some are at a greater risk for more severe and longer-lasting complications, such as pneumonia. Individuals who are elderly, or who already have medical conditions such as chronic respiratory disease, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or a depressed immune system because of cancer or HIV infection, are at an increased risk. It was noted during last year’s H1N1 outbreak that healthy children aged two to five, Aboriginal peoples and the morbidly obese also suffered from complications from the influenza virus.
If you have any questions regarding influenza or influenza vaccine please contact a member of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Program at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.
Flu Clinic Schedule for Fall 2010
Delhi Seniors (Friendship Centre) Monday, October 25, 2010 – 9:30 to 12:00
Dunnville Seniors (Grandview Lodge) Tuesday, October 26, 2010 – 9:30 to 12:00
Simcoe Seniors (Simcoe Town Centre) Wednesday, October 27, 2010 –9:00 to 1:00
Caledonia Seniors (Caledonia Library) Thursday, October 28, 2010 – 9:30 to 12:00
Delhi Public (Delhi Secondary School) Tuesday, November 2, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Langton Public (Langton Community Centre) Wednesday, November 3, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Simcoe Public (Holy Trinity High School) Thursday, November 4, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Dunnville Public (Dunnville Secondary School) Monday, November 8, 2010 –3:30to 8:00
Cayuga Public (Cayuga High School) Tuesday, November 9, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Port Dover Public (Port Dover Composite) Wednesday, November 10, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Caledonia Public (McKinnon Park Secondary) Monday, November 15, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Hagersville Public (Hagersville High School) Tuesday, November 16, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
Waterford Public (Waterford High School) Wednesday, November 17, 2010 – 4:00 to 8:00
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Public Health Nurse
Vaccine Preventable Disease Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3227 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623