NEWMARKET – It's almost flu season and once again, flu vaccine is available free of charge to all Ontario residents. York Region Health Services encourages residents to get their flu shot as early as they can.
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is caused by a virus that is easy to catch and easy to spread. The flu season generally runs from mid November to April each year. Flu symptoms include a headache, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, fever, fatigue and weakness. The flu can lead to more serious illnesses which may result in hospitalization or even death.
Each year many York Region residents are affected by influenza. A flu shot coupled with good health protection practices, such as proper and frequent hand washing and staying home from work/school when you are sick, can minimize the risk of illness for residents and their families this flu season.
A particular focus of this year's flu campaign is to encourage the immunization of people who are at risk for developing serious complications from influenza. These include people with a serious long-term health problem, such as heart, kidney or lung (including asthma) disease, diabetes, cancer, a blood disorder or weak immune system.
"Another group that is encouraged to get their flu shot are people who live, work, or volunteer in a health care or long-term care facility, chronic care institution or retirement home," said Dr Karim Kurji, Acting Medical Officer of Health and Director of Public Health Programs. "These people can easily and unintentionally transmit the virus to those individuals who may be more susceptible to suffering severe complications from the influenza virus."
Influenza vaccine has been shown to prevent illness in approximately 70 to 90 per cent of healthy children and adults. The flu is much worse than a cold. Even healthy young people can become very sick and develop serious complications.
Residents can get their flu shot from their physician, participating workplace or at one of the many York Region Health Services community flu clinics.
What else should you know? Influenza is not what is commonly called the "stomach flu" and does not usually include vomiting and diarrhea, which are caused by different viruses. The vaccine cannot give you the flu because it does not contain any live virus. Also, this vaccine does not protect against avian flu, which is a bird illness circulating in parts of Asia and Europe.
For more information on this or any other health-related questions, please contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 (toll free) or visit www.york.ca
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For more information on the Regional Municipality of York and our services, please visit www.york.ca
Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
Phone: (905) 830-4444 ext. 4016 or After-hours Pager (905) 830-3302