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Everything you need to know about the flu vaccine

Flu season is around the corner, and the best method of protecting yourself and others is by getting the flu vaccine.

“Influenza is transmitted through, what we call, droplet transmission,” said Joanna Oda, Halton Region’s Associate Medical Officer of Health. “Typically, it’s from coming into contact with the fluids or secretions of a person with influenza.”

Contracting the flu is much easier than you might think. Coughing or sneezing can spread the virus. Also, if you touch a surface that was touched by someone with the virus, you could also contract the flu.

Even though there is a lot of information supporting the benefits of the flu vaccine, there are still many people who refuse to get it. They feel their immune system is strong enough to repel the flu without the vaccine. Oda compares the flu vaccine to other preventatives:

“I look at the vaccine as similar to a seatbelt, or checking the road before I cross the street. The fact that someone survived their trip into work without wearing their seatbelt doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Joanna Oda, Associate Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region
Joanna Oda, Associate Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region

The flu vaccine consists of the coat or skin of the influenza virus. Fabio De Rango is a pharmacist and described the basics of what a vaccine does:

“The goal is to have your body’s own immune system recognize a pathogen, or an invader, so that it can mount its defenses and attack it quickly,” said De Rango.

Despite this, there are some restrictions on who can receive the vaccine, for example, children under the age of six-months old and people allergic to it. De Rango does not recommend getting the vaccine if someone has a fever. Oda adds that people who have had anaphylactic reactions to the vaccine as well as those who developed Guillain–Barré syndrome should not get the vaccine.

While you may think you can fight the flu, you might pass it on to someone who cannot. If you come into physical contact with people who have weakened immune systems, such as young children, senior citizens, or those who are immune suppressed, it’s even more crucial that you receive the flu vaccine. According to both De Rango and Oda, the flu vaccine takes effect after two weeks.

If you’re on campus and you want to get the flu vaccine, Tammy Datars, Sheridan’s manager of Health Centres, has good news for you.

“All three health centres have the flu vaccine available for any student or staff member who desires it,” said Datars. All you need to do is book an appointment, present your health card, your insurance, and your OneCard. For more information, check out Sheridan’s Health Services.

The sooner you get the shot the better.

The 2018-19 flu season saw 595 reported cases in Halton. That’s down almost 15% from the 2017-18 season, but the 2016-17 season saw only 475 cases reported. The Public Health Agency of Canada approximates 12,200 Canadians are hospitalized and 3,500 Canadians die each year because of the flu. While these figures make the flu one of the 10 leading causes of death in Canada, there are reports that these numbers are overstated.

The graphic below outlines key information on how to prevent catching the flu.

Tejas Dhir
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Tejas Dhir
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