Seasonal influenza (flu) is a contagious viral respiratory disease that causes thousands of deaths every year. Thankfully, there is a simple way to help prevent it: the flu vaccine.
Should I get vaccinated?
Yes! It is recommended for everyone over six months of age who is able to get the vaccine! As well, if any of the following apply to you, you are considered high risk for influenza-related complications and it is especially important that you get the vaccine if possible:
• Seniors (65 years or older); children 6-59 months old; pregnant women
• Aboriginal people
• People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
• People with certain medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, renal (kidney) disease, heart disease, immune suppression, blood disorders, severe obesity, and asthma or chronic lung disease.
If you live or work with anyone who falls into any of the above categories, it is also essential for you to get vaccinated in order to avoid infecting them.
Why should I get vaccinated?
Every year, 10-20% of people become infected with the influenza virus. In Canada, the flu is responsible for 20,000 hospitalizations and 2000-8000 deaths yearly.
Even if you do not believe you will get sick, you could infect other people. Certain people are unable to receive the vaccine, and they rely on other people becoming vaccinated to prevent the spread of the virus. The flu vaccine helps protect you as well as the people around you. It can prevent influenza illness in about 70-90% of people.
When should I get vaccinated?
Since different strains of the influenza virus are always appearing, a new vaccine is developed each year. This means you need to be vaccinated every year. The best time is October-December.
How and where can I get vaccinated?
If you are at least six months of age and you live, work, or go to school in Alberta, getting the flu vaccine is free! Two forms of the vaccine are available: a “flu shot” usually injected into the muscle of the arm, and a nasal spray (FluMist®). Based on your age or medical conditions, one form may be a better choice for you. Flu vaccinations will be available in public health flu clinics and some pharmacies.
At Stafford Pharmacy, our pharmacists administer flu shots and flu nasal sprays every flu season as part of our walk-in vaccination clinics, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. For more details, look for signs in the pharmacy.