01 Nov 5 Reasons to get a flu shot
Every year at this time, millions of Canadians roll up their sleeves in the name of prevention. After all, who really wants the flu, or wants to spread it to someone particularly vulnerable – an infant, a pregnant woman, the elderly, or those with chronic diseases like asthma and heart disease.
Influenza (or “flu” as most of us call it) is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious. Each year, 5 per cent to 20 per cent of us contract it, and while it makes the majority of us feel downright miserable for a week or two, complications can develop, and in some cases, flu can be deadly. About 3500 Canadians die each year as a result of flu, and over 12,000 more are hospitalized.
More Flu Facts:
- Most health professionals recommend those over the age of six months get a flu shot each year.
- According to Harvard School of Public Health, 20 to 30 percent of people who carry the influenza virus never experience flu-like symptoms, but can still pass it along to others.
- The flu vaccine is readily available in communities throughout Canada, and it’s free.
- A study published in JAMA in October 2013 found that adults who had been vaccinated were 36 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke within the next year. According to study author Jacob Udell, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Toronto, flu leads to widespread inflammation in the body, which can contribute to increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Contrary to what many believe, one cannot contract flu from the vaccine. If you happen to get sick within a week or two of the shot as your system is developing antibodies, it’s purely coincidental.
- There are enough “bugs” we can’t avoid (save your sick days for those), and protect yourself and others from the ones we can.
More ways to prevent and stop the spread of flu:
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water.
- Use alcohol-based sanitizer on your hands if soap and water aren’t available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid crowds.
- Practice good health habits – like regular exercise, eating well, managing stress, and getting enough sleep.