Every year millions of Canadians get the flu, and many are left to deal with the fallout. While you might not care if you get sick this flu season and are proud of your flu-free streak, bragging that you ‘never get sick,’ it’s important to remember the flu is not a game… and it’s not just about you.
For everyone who gets sick with the flu – even with a mild case –many more are put at risk. Your minor case of the flu can turn fatal for someone at-risk. When you get the flu shot, you’re helping protect babies, seniors, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions from being hospitalized, or worse.
Take a minute to think about all the places you go, and people you encounter in a given week. Even the most introverted among us are out and about visiting family and friends, dropping off kids at activities, talking to other parents in schoolyards and parks, dealing with colleagues… the list is exhaustive. Now think about this: each and every one of those interactions creates the opportunity to spread the flu, and it can happen before you may even be sure you are sick yourself. Moms especially know that we often put ourselves last, which means continuing on with business as usual when it comes to family activities, even when we feel under the weather. However, the flu is easy to spread, and it doesn’t take much.
Some Flu-Etiquette to keep in mind for you and your family:
WASH YOUR HANDS.Wash them often and wash them well – scrub with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds.
Keep surfaces clean as the flu virus can survive on non-porous surfaces like plastic and wood for up to 24 hours.
PRACTICE HEALTHY HABITS.Keep your immune system in tip top shape by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods, getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated and exercising regularly.
STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK.Call a doctor if symptoms are indicative of flu (fever, coughing, body aches and exhaustion.)
CANCEL VISITS TO VULNERABLE FRIENDS AND FAMILY.Please don’t go see Gramma or uncle Jack at the retirement home, or your best friend’s new baby if you have been around sick people or are sick yourself. You can – and we are not being hyperbolic here – make someone seriously ill… or worse. Those at high-risk from flu complications include seniors, children from six to 59 months of age, those with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant women.
Getting sick with the flu is at best a crappy experience and at worst… well, it’s not overstating it when we say that people die from the flu every year – yes, even here in Canada. The flu is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada, accounting for over 3,500 deaths every year. Being sick yourself would be terrible but spreading the illness to a member of the population who may not be equipped with an immune system to even fight it is reckless and preventable. Considering the sheer numbers of how many people get and transmit the flu each year, the odds are you will come into contact with someone infected.
According to Ottawa pharmacist Jennifer Kutten, “Not enough Canadians are getting the flu shot. The 2018/2019 flu season only accounted for 34 per cent of adults getting vaccinated, which is not enough to protect those around you, especially those at-risk individuals that require herd immunity to help stay healthy.”
So we’ve established that the flu is basically… terrible. Now let us tell you how easy, efficient, and convenient it is to get a flu shot and help stop the spread of illness. First and foremost, you can get a flu shot from your local pharmacy located at Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and Atlantic Superstore!
You can get one when you pick up diapers or milk or a prescription or the latest fashion magazine and you don’t need an appointment! You can also take this piece of knowledge with you: Last year’s flu shot was highly effective, and reduced the risk of infection with the dominant circulating flu strain by more than 70 per cent. Pharmacists welcome your flu questions, and it is their goal to see you comfortable and vaccinated against the flu. Take advantage of their accessibility, training, and experience and see one today.
While we’re at it lets bust a few flu myths here too, since forty per cent of Canadians still think that you can catch the flu from the flu shot.
Pregnant women CAN get the flu shot, and you CAN still catch the flu even if you were vaccinated last year. Each year the flu strain is different, so it’s important to get vaccinated when a new flu shot becomes available each year. And there’s another myth we need to send the way of the dodo bird as well, and that’s the myth that “toughing it out” makes you somehow stronger or a more of a hard-worker than your office mate who stayed home with a cough and fever. Sick? STAY AWAY. I may want your cool new mug or one of the homemade cookies you bring in on Fridays, but I do NOT want your flu.
The flu isn’t just about you. Protect yourself, your family and friends, and all the people who are at risk and can’t protect themselves – that’s something to brag about.
Get a flu shot – it’s easy and aren’t you going to get groceries soon anyway?