Did you know that each year, 10 to 20 percent of Canadians get the flu, that about 12,000 of them require hospitalization, and that approximately 3,500 die as a result of the virus?
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated each year. Since the flu “season” usually starts near the end of the fall, it’s important to take advantage of the vaccination campaigns that typically begin in November.
The flu shot is recommended for everyone in Quebec, and it is available for free to certain groups of individuals at greater risk for flu-related complications. These groups include children between the ages of 6 and 23 months, pregnant women, people with certain chronic diseases (e.g. lung or heart disease, diabetes), individuals with a weakened immune system (due to an illness or treatment), people 60 years old or over, and residents in seniors’ homes or long-term care facilities. In order to better protect these at-risk individuals, it is recommended that persons living with or caring for them should also get vaccinated. It is important to note that while the flu shot itself is free to certain group of individuals, there may be a fee to pay for the injection, for example if the shot is given in a pharmacy.
People who don’t belong to these groups should also get the flu shot, as it will protect them and the people with whom they come into contact. However, they will have to pay for the service and the vaccine. Some employers offer free vaccination clinics for their employees.
Lastly, don’t neglect hygiene measures such as hand washing, even if you do get vaccinated. These practices are essential in order to reduce your risk of catching or spreading the flu, as well as other infectious diseases such as the common cold and gastroenteritis.
Don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions!