Have you thought about getting vaccinated against influenza this fall? Quebec’s influenza vaccination campaign starts in November, so now is the time to take action!
Influenza, most commonly known as “the flu”, is a virus-caused infection of the respiratory system. It manifests itself by a sudden fever, dry cough, muscle aches, fatigue and general malaise, and regrettably lasts over many days. Influenza usually spontaneously cures itself within five to seven days, although cough and fatigue may last over two weeks. For people who are most vulnerable, influenza can have more important consequences such as pneumonia, hospitalization and even death. Every year in Quebec, influenza and its complications bring about 10,000 to 50,000 hospitalizations and are the cause of over 1,000 deaths. Because the culprit is a virus, antibiotics are completely useless in fighting this infection.
The flu vaccine is recommended to all people who want to reduce their chances of getting the flu. In Quebec, the vaccine is highly recommended and is free for people who are at greater risk for complications (due to chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart and kidney diseases) and their families; for children between the ages of 6 to 23 months; for people living with children younger than 2 years of age, or those who care for them; for people 60 years and older and for healthcare professionals. Although you will have to pay if you are not part of these target groups, you should nevertheless get vaccinated.
Vaccination is the most efficient way to prevent flu propagation. As the influenza virus is constantly evolving, you must get a flu shot every year. The composition of the vaccine is determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) who identifies the three strains of the influenza virus that will likely be most common during the next fall and winter seasons.
Like all vaccines, the flu vaccine is not completely infallible. It is estimated that the vaccine prevents the flu in approximately 70 to 90% of children and healthy adults. In elderly people or people suffering from a chronic disease, the vaccine significantly decreases the risk of complications, hospitalization and death: that is why it is offered to them for free. The vaccine reaches its highest efficiency rate approximately two weeks after the injection.
Contact your local CLSC, hospital, medical clinic or pharmacy to learn where and when the vaccination clinics nearest you will be held.
It is also important not to confuse influenza with other benign respiratory infections such as the common cold. Regrettably, the flu shot does not protect against other types of viral infections.
You should always remember that regularly and thoroughly washing your hands can prevent the transmission of both the flu and the common cold.
It’s in your hands!