Flu Season is Right Around the Corner
Oct 3, 2012
By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy
Many Manitobans say we have two seasons; winter and construction season. If you ask a Manitoba Pharmacist, we might say we have Construction Season and Flu Season. Although the weather has been great, we need to start thinking about flu season. There always seems to be some controversy and a lack of knowledge regarding who needs the flu shot, the flu shots benefits and how safe it is.
Seasonal influenza, or the seasonal flu, is a common and highly contagious respiratory infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times death. Flu sufferers feel feverish, have the chills, aching muscles and of course sinus problems. The flu will likely also make you feel very tired and can precipitate headaches. Vomiting and diarrhea is more common in children than adults.
Influenza is spread via droplets from people sneezing, coughing or even talking. These droplets can land on other people or on surfaces commonly touched by others, like door knobs and hand rails. Someone else touches these surfaces followed by their eyes, mouth or nose and they become infected.
Influenza may be passed from one to another before anyone realizes they are sick. An adult can remain contagious anywhere from five to seven days after becoming sick. Those with weaker immune systems have been shown to be even more contagious.
Some people fear influenza and others push the matter aside because of the varying severity influenza can have. The severity of the flu will depend on what type of strain is spreading, how the population is vaccinated and how well the flu vaccine is matched to the actual virus causing health issues. The complications stemming from influenza are actually what should be feared. Complications of include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Based on our history, flu seasons can be very unpredictable. In Canada, flu-associated deaths can be in the thousands or even tens-of-thousands.
The severity of the flu on an individual is usually determined by that persons overall health. Although the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends anyone over six months of age to get the flu shot, the province of Manitoba recommends anyone in the following list or anyone in close contact with people who fall in the following list to get the flu shot: (the list includes)
Seniors aged 65 years or older
Residents of long-term care homes
Children six months to five years of age
Those with chronic illness such as:
Those with weakened immune systems
Those with respiratory illness
Those with diabetes, mental disabilities or other chronic illness
Health care workers and first responders
Individuals of Aboriginal ancestry
People who are severely overweight or obese
While practising good hygiene such as hand washing is very important, the single best way to prevent getting influenza is by getting the flu shot. The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine meaning it contains dead versions of the virus. The vaccine contains the three strains researchers feel will be the most common in the upcoming year. While the flu shot protects you, it also protects others as you are less likely to spread the virus.
While the flu season peaks in January or February we do start seeing cases in late October. Full protection against the flu takes about two weeks from the time you get the shot and lasts about six months.
Children under six months, adults with chicken egg allergies and those with a history ofan allergic reaction to the influenza vaccine should not receive it. Also those who are temporarily ill with fever should wait until their symptoms improve before getting the vaccine.
Various flu clinics have been organized for the Parkland Region. The Mass Immunization clinic will be held in Dauphin on Tuesday, October 23 at the 8th Avenue Hall (304 Whitmore Ave.) from 10:00 AM to 6:45 PM. If you would like to see the full schedule of clinics you can visit our website at www.dcp.ca or on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/clinicpharmacy. Remember the flu strains change every year, so it is vital to get the flu shot annually as well.
As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.
The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca