Niagara Health is encouraging the community to be a Flu Fighter this fall by getting the influenza vaccine.
The flu shot provides protection against contracting influenza and adds a layer of protection for those around you. It also helps reduce strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Now, more than ever, it’s important to get your flu shot," says Dr. Johan Viljoen, Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President Medical for Niagara Health. "While the world waits for a COVID vaccine, we are fortunate to have this option to guard against influenza and it makes sense to take advantage of this opportunity to protect our health and well-being. Getting a flu shot as soon as possible is important because it takes two weeks to take effect."
The flu is a contagious illness that can result in a hospital stay or can lead to serious complications. The vaccine, which is recommended for anyone six months and older, is safe and the most effective way of preventing the spread of influenza.
There are many reasons to get vaccinated.
"It can reduce your risk of flu and its potentially serious complications. It also can reduce the severity of your illness, even if you do get sick," says Derek McNally, Niagara Health’s Executive Vice President Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive. "However, getting the flu shot is not just about keeping you healthy; it’s also about helping to protect everyone around you who may be vulnerable to becoming ill from the influenza virus."
In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, Niagara Health strongly recommends that community members practice the following safety measures to control the spread viruses such as influenza and COVID-19:
- Physical distancing. Stay 6 feet apart from others whenever possible.
- Wear a mask.
- Clean your hands regularly.
COVID-19 AND THE FLU
Information about Niagara Health COVID-19 Assessment Centres is available here.
If someone has COVID symptoms, they should stay home and self-isolate unless going to the assessment centre. If you have symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days or until you receive your test results. If not COVID-19, it may be the flu or another respiratory illness.
WHERE TO GET THE FLU SHOT
- You can get the flu shot from:
- Your family physician’s office
- Walk-in clinics
- Participating pharmacies (for children 5 and older)
- Community health clinics (See a list here.)
OTHER TIPS TO AVOID GETTING – AND SPREADING – THE FLU
Wash your hands often: Even after getting the flu shot, washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds helps keep the virus from spreading.
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze: Use a tissue and throw it out rather than putting it in your pocket, on a desk or table. If you don't have a tissue, cough into your upper sleeve.
Don't touch your face: The flu virus spreads when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk and droplets enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and shared items: Viruses can live for hours on hard surfaces like counter-tops, door handles, computer keyboards and phones.
Stay at home when you're sick: Viruses spread more easily in group settings, such as businesses, schools and nursing homes.
For medical emergencies, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.
Learn about healthcare options in Niagara here.