Flu season is almost here - time to get your flu shot
The influenza vaccine for this year’s flu shots will arrive in the province this week and Islanders are encouraged to get their flu shot to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Vaccine will be distributed free of charge throughout the province beginning next week at public health clinics, pharmacies, and nurse practitioners’ and physicians’ offices. In addition, walk-in public health flu clinics will start on October 9; call 1-855-354-4358 (4FLU) or visit Flu Vaccination Clinics for clinic times and locations (no appointment is necessary).
“The flu can be very serious, that is why we are proud to be providing free flu shots to all people living on PEI, accessible at multiple sites throughout the province,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell. “We all have a responsibility to keep our families and communities healthy and safe. The flu shot is free, easy to get, and the best way to stay healthy this flu season.”
This is the second year the province has provided free flu shots for all Islanders at the location of their choice. In addition, self-assessment tools for adult immunization will be available this year at many public health flu clinics to help determine if you could benefit from additional immunizations. Islanders can access the Adult Immunization Screening Tool anytime at PEI Adult Immunization Screening Tool.
All Islanders over the age of 65 should also get a pneumococcal (Pneu-P-23) vaccine. It helps protect against pneumococcal disease including a serious type of pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis. Both the flu and the Pneu-P-23 vaccine will be offered at no charge for people aged 65 at several public health flu clinics.
Lower your flu risk. “Getting a flu shot and washing your hands frequently is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu or giving the flu to those around you,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer. “I encourage all Islanders to protect themselves and get immunized, especially those who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza such as young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems or other chronic health conditions.”
In addition to getting a flu shot, Islanders should practice the three C’s to limit the spread of any illness:
• Clean – properly wash your hands frequently;
• Cover – cover your cough and sneeze; and
• Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
To learn more, visit Flu Vaccination Clinics.
Influenza, also known as the flu, affects the airways and the lungs. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, or by touching things that have been contaminated by the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. It can sometimes cause severe illness or even death.
Why get vaccinated against influenza?
Seasonal influenza (flu) is a highly contagious virus. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Vaccination is the single most effective way of lowering your risk of getting the flu . When you get your flu shot, you protect yourself, your family and your community.
The flu can lead to serious complications for individuals with pre-existing illness (cancer, COPD or asthma), the very young and the elderly. Complications may include pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.
What is the flu shot?
The World Health Organization (WHO) determines the most likely flu virus strains to be circulating in the upcoming flu season. The vaccine is then manufactured to protect against these strains. Because the flu shot contains particles of inactivated (dead) flu virus, you cannot get influenza from the flu shot.
This year's flu vaccine offers protection against 4 strains of influenza viruses specified by the World Health Organization: 2 strains of influenza A and 2 strains of influenza B.
The following influenza vaccines will be made available to immunizers for the 2018-2019 influenza season for the following indications:
1) QIV (Fluzone®) injectable inactivated quadravalent vaccine for both adults and children (6 months of age and older
2) LAIV (Flumist®) live attenuated intranasal vaccine for children ages 2 to 17 years old – available only at public health nursing clinics and from clinics and physicians who special order it.
3) HD TIV (Fluzone High Dose®) for seniors 65+ in long term care (LTC) and community care facilities (CCF), as well as those in acute care awaiting placement in LTC and CCF
How does it work?
The flu shot protects against four strains of influenza viruses that experts anticipate will circulate during the influenza season. It does this by stimulating your immune system to build up antibodies against the viruses, making it stronger so that it’s ready to fight off the illness before it starts. Seasonal influenza vaccine is effective at lowering the risk of influenza illness and hospitalization depending on the age and health status of the person receiving the vaccine.
Why should I get it early in the season?
Getting your flu shot early in the season lets your immune system build up antibodies sooner, so it’s ready when flu season starts. It can take up to two weeks for antibodies to build up after you get the shot.
Who should get it?
The flu shot is recommended for everyone over six months of age. It’s especially important for:
• people with weakened immune systems
• those who have a chronic illness, including asthma or are morbidly obese
• residents of long term care
• young children
• pregnant women
• those aged 65 and over
• people who identify as Aboriginal
• anyone who takes care of people in these groups
What are the potential side effects?
The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site. It is usually temporary and rarely interferes with normal activities.
What are the symptoms of Influenza?
Influenza symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms can begin about one to four days after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms may last up to seven to ten days, with the cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.
Where can Islanders receive the flu shot?
• Health PEI Public Health Nursing clinics (schedule of clinics is available online at www.healthpei.ca/flu)
• Family physicians and nurse practitioners offices
• Various pharmacies
Is there a charge for getting the flu shot?
All individuals living in PEI are eligible for a free flu shot. The government of Prince Edward Island covers both the cost of the medication, and the administrative fee.