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These six months are all within flu season with the peak of illness usually occurring in February. In Canada, the flu results in an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths every year. Influenza viruses can change rapidly. That’s why there is a new flu shot made every year to protect against the changing virus. The 2012-13 vaccine protects against three strains of the seasonal influenza that are predicted to circulate this season, including H1N1. If you haven’t gotten sick yet, you can thank the flu shot. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, you should think about getting it.
You’re helping others too
Some people have conditions that increase the risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. These individuals may have asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, are over 65 years old or are pregnant. By getting the flu shot, you’re protecting your family, friends and colleagues from the virus.
The vaccine does not make you sick
There is a myth that getting a flu shot causes you to get the flu. The viruses in the injectable influenza vaccine are inactivated so they do not cause influenza. Minor side effects that can occur include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, fever (low grade), or aches. If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually last one or two days.
Widely available and free, for your convenience
Not only is this year’s vaccine offered at no cost, it is offered in many locations including your family doctor’s office, public health clinics and walk-in clinics, and at many long-term care facilities. In addition, many employers are providing workplace flu clinics. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor, you can get the vaccine somewhere else, like a health department or pharmacy. When it comes to finding a flu shot, you have many different options!
If you haven’t received the flu shot this year, don’t worry – it’s not too late! Some health care providers may have remaining supplies of the vaccine. People seeking vaccination may need to call more than one provider to locate availability. Doctors Nova Scotia’s list of walk-in clinics across Nova Scotia may be helpful.