Why you and your Family Should Get the Flu Shot

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Why you and your Family

Should Get the Flu Shot

Why Get VaCCinated aGainSt inFluenZa?

Influenza (flu) is a virus that can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from it. Influenza is very contagious – anyone can get it and spread it to others. The influenza vaccination (the flu shot) is the single most effective way to protect yourself.

There are

2 main reasons

why you should get a flu shot every year:

1. Influenza viruses are always changing. That’s why vaccines are updated each year. Each flu season, a new flu shot is designed to protect against the most recent and common viruses going around. Different influenza viruses are called “strains.”

2. Our immunity from the vaccine gets weaker over time, so getting the flu shot every year is the best way to keep you protected. Talk to your health care provider about why the flu shot is important for you and your family.

What are the benefits of getting the flu shot?

• You’ll protect yourself

• You’ll protect newborn babies and infants who are too young to get vaccinated • You’ll protect other people who are at risk for complications from influenza

Where do i Get the Flu Shot?

all individuals 6 months of age and older who live, work or attend school in ontarioshould get the flu shot. You can get the flu shot at your health care provider’s office, at a public health clinic in your neighbourhood, or at almost 2,400 pharmacies across the province. Please note, however, that pharmacists in Ontario can only give the flu shot to children who are 5 years of age or older.

It’s easy to find a flu shot clinic by using the flu shot clinic locator tool on the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s website. (www.ontario.ca/flu)

after you get the flu shot, it takes about 2 weeks for you to be protected against influenza. So, it’s a good idea to get your flu shot at the start of the influenza season.

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the toP reaSonS to Get the Flu Shot

#1. inFluenZa aFFeCtS eVeryone

Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting influenza. An Ontario study showed that every year, the flu shot prevents 30,000 visits to hospital emergency departments and more than 200,000 visits to doctors’ offices. It also prevents approximately 300 deaths and 1,000 hospitalizations.

When you get the flu shot, you are protecting not only yourself, but your family members, friends and co-workers throughout. Plus, if you are around people who are weak or ill (for example, babies, older people, people with long-term health conditions such as asthma or diabetes, or people who are living with cancer), then you’re also protecting them.

What this means for me and my family:

• Even if you are healthy, if you come in contact with influenza, you are more likely to get sick if you are not protected through vaccination. Everyone is susceptible to getting the flu.

• When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself from miserable illness, and you protect others around you from serious illness as well.

#2. the Flu VaCCine ProteCtS you From GettinG inFluenZa

Each year, the World Health Organization (www.who.int) looks at information from labs in over 100 countries and decides which strains of influenza to include in the vaccine for the next flu season.

The flu vaccine works because it protects against the most common influenza viruses that are expected to spread in the coming season. When the vaccine is well-matched, the flu shot can prevent 60% to 80% of influenza in healthy adults and children every year.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza. Although the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, it still prevents many illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza.

What this means for me and my family:

• Hand washing, sneezing or coughing into your sleeve and staying home when you are sick reduce the risk of spreading or getting influenza, but they’re not enough. Get the flu shot!

• By getting the flu shot, you are helping to protect yourself, your family and the ones you care for. You also won’t be risking time spent away from work or school by being sick with the flu.

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#3. the Flu VaCCination iS SaFe

Public Health Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada monitor safety and side effects of the flu shot on an ongoing basis. The flu vaccine has been used for over 50 years and hundreds of millions of flu shots are given safely every year.

the flu shot doesn’t cause the flu

Flu activity can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, there are many other viruses going around that cause flu-like symptoms. So, it isn’t unusual for people to get a “cold” or “influenza-like” illness in the weeks after getting the flu shot. We know from testing though, that this is not caused by the flu shot. Some people just get sick because it’s the time of year when so many other flu-like viruses are going around.

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. It is impossible to get influenza from the flu shot, because it does not contain any live viruses. Some people get sick despite having gotten the shot, because:

• they got influenza during the two-week period while the body was developing immunity, or • they got another type of respiratory infection that the flu shot did not protect against If you get the flu shot, and you still get influenza, it will be a milder case.

Side effects – if any – are mild and brief

The flu shot gets a bad rap for causing side effects. Serious reactions are rare. Although some side effects may occur after getting the flu shot, they don’t last long (1 or 2 days) and don’t usually interfere with your daily life. The most common side effects are soreness, redness or swelling at the place on your body where you got the shot.

What this means for me and my family:

• Consider the odds: if you don’t get the flu shot, you’re likely to get the flu; but if you do get the flu shot, you’ll be helping to protect not only yourself, but your family, friends and co-workers over the entire flu season.

#4. you haVe a Child under 5 yearS old

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that all children from 6 months old to under 5 years old get the flu shot.

Did you know … 4 in 10 unvaccinated children will get influenza during any influenza season. Children under age 2 end up in the hospital more often because they develop serious complications such as pneumonia, infection and seizures.

In addition to protecting kids against influenza, the flu shot has been shown to cut the number of influenza-related ear infections in children by half.

What this means for me and my family:

• Influenza vaccine protects children from common and miserable illnesses like ear infections. It also protects them from more serious complications that can result in hospitalization.

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#5. you are PreGnant or ConSiderinG PreGnanCy

Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia, from influenza. When pregnant women get the flu shot, it protects their babies from being born too early, and from getting influenza in the first 6 months of life. For these reasons, all pregnant women should get the flu shot. The flu shot is safe in pregnancy and can be given at any time during the pregnancy. It is also safe for mothers who are breastfeeding.

What this means for me and my family:

• Getting vaccinated when you are pregnant protects both you and your baby from the flu.

• Most importantly, if your baby is going to be born in the winter or spring, getting vaccinated reduces the risk that your baby will be born prematurely.

#6. you – or Someone you KnoW – iS oVer 65 or haS a lonG-term health Condition

older adults

There are important reasons why older people should get the flu shot, especially those with long-term (chronic) health conditions. The flu shot reduces their risk of getting pneumonia or having a heart attack. For people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – a lung disease), the flu shot reduces the chance of their disease getting worse.

long-term health conditions

People with long-term health problems are at higher risk of complications if they get influenza. Plus, having the flu can make their chronic disease worse.

Anyone with the following long-term health conditions should get the flu shot: • asthma or chronic lung disease

• diabetes • cancer • kidney disease • anemia

• a weakened immune system because of a disease (such as people with HIV infection) or because of medications (such as long-term use of steroids)

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What this means for me and my family:

• You can’t always protect yourself from others. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people can unknowingly spread the virus to others. People can infect others 1 day before their symptoms develop and up to 7 days after becoming sick.

• If you or someone you live with is older, has a chronic illness, or is living with cancer or HIV infection, you are helping to protect both yourself and them by getting the flu shot.

#7. GettinG the Flu Shot iS Part oF a healthy liFeStyle

Vaccines trigger your body’s own response to protect itself against a disease. But because vaccines use harmless, inactive virus, you are not at risk of getting that disease. Vaccination is like a rehearsal for your immune system: it prepares your body to fight back if you are exposed to the “real” disease.

It’s better to take an hour out of your day to get a flu shot, than risk getting the flu and being off work for days or even a whole week. To ensure a healthy lifestyle for you and your family, friends and co-workers:

• Avoid getting sick from influenza

• Avoid giving influenza to other people, including your family, friends and co-workers • Avoid missing work and losing income due to influenza

What this means for me and my family:

• Getting a flu shot is part of a healthy lifestyle.

• When you get vaccinated against the flu, you build up your immunity, making you stronger and more resistant to the virus. Individuals 6 months of age and older who live, work or attend school in Ontario are strongly encouraged to get the flu shot.

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