October 7, 2019 - When the leaves start falling, it’s time to start thinking about flu season! Flu shots are the body’s best defense against catching and spreading the flu virus that starts to circulate this time of year.
The flu (influenza) is a serious respiratory illness that can lead to complications like pneumonia. The flu shot, FREE to all residents of Ontario, is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. There are certain groups of people at a greater risk of serious illness from flu-related complications, so they are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot:
- People with weakened immune systems due to chronic illness or medical treatment
- Pregnant women
- Children under the age of 5
- Adults over the age of 65
“The flu shot boosts the immune system by helping it to build antibodies against the virus that causes the flu,” says Kandace Belanger, manager of the vaccine preventable diseases program.”
Belanger also strongly encourages those who provide care to higher risk individuals to consider a flu shot. This group includes health care providers, teachers, home care workers, child care providers and family members who have an infant in the home who is under 6 months old or care for higher risk family members.
Flu shots are widely available at many convenient locations, including medical clinics and pharmacies. Because of this increased availability, the TBDHU is focusing their efforts on those with the least access, children under the age of 5. Children under the age of 5 can only be immunized by a doctor, nurse or nurse practitioner; they cannot be immunized by a pharmacist. As such, the TBDHU's clinics in Thunder Bay will focus on children under 5 and their families.
These TBDHU clinics for children under 5 and their families will be offered in partnership with select organizations at various locations across the city. A full schedule is available at thunderbayflu.ca.
In the district communities, individuals are encouraged to visit their health care provider or their local pharmacy to receive a flu shot. Branch office nurses will be working with community partners to support immunization efforts targeting those considered high risk for flu complications.
An Ontario health card is required for those receiving a flu shot from a pharmacy or a health care provider. The card is not required at the TBDHU clinics. For individuals without an Ontario health card, visit thunderbayflu.ca for details on how to access the flu shot.
For more information about flu season, and for details on the flu vaccine, visit Ontario’s flu website at ontario.ca/flu
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