Oct
5
2016

Flu shot is No. 1 way to prevent illness

Islanders are urged to get their flu shot as flu season on Prince Edward Island nears.

Throughout October 52,000 doses of influenza vaccine will be delivered in various shipments to immunizers. Influenza season typically begins in Prince Edward Island in December.

“A flu shot is safe, free to many Islanders, and the number one way to prevent getting the flu and its complications,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “When you get your flu shot, you protect yourself, your family, and your community.”

The vaccine is provided free of charge by the Department of Health and Wellness. The following groups are not charged an administration fee when receiving the flu shot at the Health PEI Public Immunization Clinics, pharmacy or physician/nurse practitioner offices:

•    children 6-59 months;

•    individuals age 65 and over;

•    pregnant women and household contacts of pregnant women; and

•    individuals who identify as Aboriginal.

Islanders not in the above groups may be charged an administration fee. The fee is $7 at all Health PEI Public Immunization Clinics.  Physicians and pharmacists may set their own fee.

“Everyone over the age of six months should get the flu vaccine every year,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. “Besides getting immunized, other preventative measures include washing your hands often, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve, avoiding touching your face, and if you do get sick, stay home for the sake and health of others.”

Clinics will start on October 11; call 1-855-354-4358 (4FLU) to book an appointment at one of the Health PEI Influenza Immunization Clinics across the province. Islanders can also contact local pharmacists, family physicians or nurse practitioners to ask about getting a flu shot.

For more information, visit Health PEI Fluclinics.

Backgrounder

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 to reduce the impact of influenza. 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 shot will offer protection against four strains of influenza viruses specified by the World Health Organization: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like strain, A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like strain, B/Phuket/3073/2013-like strain (Yamagata lineage)–and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like strain (Victoria Lineage).

How does it work?
The flu shot strengthens your immune system against up to four strains of influenza virus circulating in the community. 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.

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

•    Family physicians and pharmacists may administer the flu shot – check with your doctor or pharmacy for details.

Who receives the flu shot without paying an administration charge?

•    There is no charge for the vaccine itself.

•    Islanders who are at higher risk of complications from influenza are not charged an administration fee when receiving the flu shot at the HPEI Public Immunization Clinics, pharmacy or physician/nurse practitioner offices

•    Children 6-59 months

•    Individuals age 65 and over

•    Pregnant women and household contacts of pregnant women

•    Individuals who identify as Aboriginal

Others may be charged an administration fee.  The fee is  $7 at all Health PEI Public Immunization Clinics.  Physicians and pharmacists may set their own fee.

Media contact:
Samantha Hughes
(902) 368-5512 
shughes@gov.pe.ca

General Inquiries

Health PEI
16 Garfield Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6130
Fax: 902-368-6136

healthpei@gov.pe.ca

Your Health Privacy

Media Inquiries
Phone: 902-368-6135

Health PEI Board of Directors

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

If you are unsure what to do about a health issue or if you need health information, call 8-1-1.

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