Annual flu shot offers protection

Flu season is about to descend. Be prepared for it, especially if you’re considered high-risk for complications from influenza. This includes people:

  • Over the age of 65
  • With chronic heart or lung disease
  • Living or working in nursing homes, chronic care facilities or hospitals
  • Suffering from diabetes, cancer, kidney disease
  • With a weak immune system.

Annual shot needed
The flu virus changes year to year, so the vaccine is adjusted annually to fight those changes. That means last year’s shot won’t protect you this year. You have to get flu vaccine annually.  

October and November are ideal months for inoculations, so your body is protected for the onset of flu season.

Free flu shots
The province of Ontario will be offering free flu shots at doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics and employee-sponsored clinics again this year.

Last year’s initiative is considered a success. In health care facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, there were only nine flu cases reported, compared to 341 the previous year.

Other provinces are now looking at offeringhe same program. If you’re not sure what’s happening where you live, call your local public health unit to find out.

Wash your hands
Another good defense against the flu is washing your hands, according to a study done by Health Canada in 1998. For hand washing to be effective, adopt these techniques:

  • Rinse under warm (not hot) water first.
  • Lather up with soap.
  • Rub hands together for at least 10 seconds. (Don’t forget the backs of the hands.)
  • Rinse under warm running water.
  • Dry hands with a single use paper towel.
  • In public places, use the towel to turn off the faucet.

How long is a 10-second scrub? The time it takes to hum “Happy Birthday to You.”