New vaccine just for seniors to help fight the flu

Influenza (or the flu) is a common respiratory illness that affects up to an estimated 1 in 4 Canadians each year. Flu symptoms like fever, achiness, tiredness, nausea and vomiting, can last up to 10 days.

Canadian seniors aged 65 or older are particularly hard hit by the flu, with the highest rate of hospitalization and death. While most people recover completely, some people are at risk for serious complications like pneumonia, which can be long-term. To help seniors fight the flu — Health Canada has approved FLUAD, a seasonal flu vaccine for adults 65 years and older. This is the first seasonal flu vaccine in Canada to contain a “booster” that helps increase the body’s immune response and is specifically for Canadians 65 years and older.

And while you’re out and about doing holiday shopping, attending holiday parties or getting ready to head south, it’s important to remember that the influenza virus spreads mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People can also become infected by touching objects or surfaces with flu viruses on them and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.

Tips to help you avoid the flu:
– The best way to avoid the flu: get the flu shot
– Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often
– Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) handy at work, home and in your car. It needs to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective.

Recently, at the Toronto Zoomer Show, a Flu Clinic was set-up over the two days offering attendees their flu shot free of charge. “At the Flu Clinic, of those 65 years and older who got their shot, more than 75 per cent of them chose FLUAD vs. the traditional influenza vaccine. People appreciated having an option just for them” says Cindy Hitsman, Senior Director at the Victorian Order of Nurses of Canada (VON). Moses Znaimer, President of CARP: A New Vision of Aging for Canada received his own FLUAD shot at the 2011 Zoomer Show this fall.

“We know that the seasonal flu and subsequent diseases such as pneumonia are a leading cause of death among Canadian seniors” says Dr. Jay Keystone, Director of the Medisys Travel Health and Immunization Clinic in Toronto and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. “FLUAD should provide added protection for seniors to help them get through the tough winter months and will be critical for influenza prevention.”

Don’t let the flu get you down this holiday season! Talk to your doctor about how you can best protect yourself and enjoy all this time of year has to offer. Happy Holidays!

For more information visit Novartis Canada.