By Dr. Vivien Brown, VP Medical Affairs at Medisys Executive Health
Did you know that influenza, and its complications such as pneumonia, is the 6th leading cause of death in Canada and often a life-ending episode for a vulnerable person? And in fact, the flu vaccine does not prevent every episode of influenza. That being said, it can help reduce the severity of the symptoms and prevent flu-related complications.
So why bother in the first place if you are in good health and not at high risk?
Immunization against influenza has been shown to reduce the number of deaths and hospitalizations, especially in high-risk populations such as children between 6 to 59 months, people 65 years or older, pregnant women, and those who suffer from chronic health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney diseases, etc. And even though the vaccine does not eliminate every episode of influenza, it does decrease the severity of the disease if you do contract it.
It takes a community to fight the flu.
To further reduce mortality and morbidity due to the flu, it is also important for those who are capable of transmitting the flu to high-risk individuals such as healthcare providers and individuals providing direct care to children and elderly to receive the flu vaccine. A phenomenon known as the “herd immunity” explains why it is crucial for everyone, not just those individuals mentioned above, to get vaccinated. Essentially, when a certain percentage of a population is vaccinated, there is little chance for an influenza outbreak to occur. That means by being vaccinated, you are protecting not only yourself but also the people around you: your children and your grandchildren, your elderly relatives, your co-workers, your staff. Even individuals who are not eligible to get the vaccine will be protected because the disease is less likely to spread.
The flu season in Canada generally begins in late fall and lasts throughout the winter months. Most people with the flu typically get symptoms such as sore throat, high fever, cough, chills, muscle ache, and occasionally diarrhea, nausea and vomiting can also occur. This is a different picture than just an upper respiratory infection. Fever and muscle aches are significant. Most healthy individuals will recover in 7-10 days. However, for those with weaker immune systems such as young children, elderly, and those who are immune compromised, catching the flu can lead to more severe complications.
How does the flu shot work?
The flu shot can be given to anyone over 6 months of age. It is deemed safe, has very little side effects and it is recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The vaccine stimulates your body to produce antibodies, which can help protect against the strains of viruses that are in the vaccine. In Canada, there are many choices of vaccine, both inactivated influenza vaccines and live attenuated influenza vaccines. And different populations may have a better response to a certain kind of influenza vaccine.
Get your flu shot this flu season.
With work and family obligations, our busy daily lives make it tough to find the time to get your flu shot. But if you want to protect yourself and your community this flu season, it’s important to take the time to get vaccinated.
If you’re interested in learning more about workplace flu vaccination programs for your organization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the Horizon Guide to Flu Season infographic for your workplace!