Get the seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot)
The best way to prevent influenza (the flu) each year is to get you and your family immunized against the flu at least two weeks before the influenza season begins. The seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot) helps the body develop protective antibodies (immunity) that will prevent severe illness from this year’s influenza virus. The flu shot does not prevent you or your family from catching other colds and viruses that are circulating during the winter season. The flu shot does not give you or your family “the flu”.
Click here to see if you or your family is eligible for the publicly funded influenza vaccine.
It is important for the following people to get vaccinated against influenza:
- Aboriginal people;
- pregnant women;
- people with chronic medical conditions;
- health-care workers;
However, people who should not receive the flu shot include:
- Infants less than 6 months of age;
- People who have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine;
- People who have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any of the components of influenza vaccine;
- People who have a sudden onset of illness with fever;
- People known to have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks of a previous influenza vaccine.
Get your flu shot before the influenza season begins
The Department of Health encourages everyone to get the flu shot when it becomes available in mid-October before the influenza season begins, usually in November. It takes about two weeks after you are immunized before the vaccine gives you full protection.
Good health habits
Proper hand washing is also important in preventing the spread of infection. Other ways to protect you and your family include:
- keeping hands away from the eyes and nose;
- exercising regularly;
- getting enough sleep;
- eating healthy;
- staying away from anyone who has the flu; and
- not smoking
Wash your hands frequently
Twenty seconds of hand-washing with warm water and soap helps remove bacteria and viruses. It is particularly important to wash hands before and after eating; after using the bathroom; after coughing or sneezing; and after touching surfaces that may have been contaminated by other people.
Cover up when coughing or sneezing
Use a tissue, or raise your arm to your face to cough or sneeze into your sleeve. If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible, and wash your hands immediately. Encourage others to do the same.
Keep shared surface areas clean
Doorknobs, light switches, telephones, keyboards and other surfaces can become contaminated with all kinds of bacteria and viruses. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces can help reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses.
If you or your family get sick, stay home
If you or your family goes out when sick, you can spread your illness to co-workers, classmates, neighbours or others. It may take you or your family longer to get better if you are not well rested. Wait until the fever has subsided and normal activities are ready to be resumed.
Talk about staying healthy
Encourage others to follow these simple steps. If you have children, be a good role model. Teach them to count to 20 while washing their hands, and show them how to cover up when they cough or sneeze.