As the flu shot campaign approaches, you may be asking yourself whether you should get vaccinated. The answer: Absolutely!
It is estimated that 5 to 10 percent of the Canadian population contracts the influenza virus each year. The flu is most common among children, but there are more serious cases and deaths among persons over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses. Each year, some 20,000 Canadians must be hospitalized for the flu, and between 4,000 and 8,000 of them die from pneumonia caused by the flu.
In Quebec, the flu vaccine is free for pregnant women, children under the age of two, persons over the age of 65, individuals living in a seniors’ home or long-term care facility, healthcare and childcare workers, and persons in close contact with at-risk individuals. The vaccine is also free for people who suffer from chronic illnesses such as asthma, relatively severe cardiac or pulmonary conditions, diabetes, and diseases affecting the immune system.
The flu vaccine is developed each year according to the predictions made by the World Health Organization, based on the viral strains encountered the previous winter. The vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, but it reduces the risk of contracting the infection and of developing complications. While last winter was fairly mild in terms of flu activity, there is no guarantee that this year will be the same.
If you belong to one of the target groups, don’t take the risk – get your flu shot. If you’re healthy, consider it as well, because the flu can be unpredictable. Even though fatalities are rare, the illness itself is serious and can put you out of commission for several weeks. The details for your region’s vaccination campaign can be found on the regional website of the Centres de la santé et des services sociaux (CSSS).