Protect yourself and others from infection

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Hub Health by Sandeep Sodhi, pharmacist

Pharmacists are eager, accessible and well placed to administer influenza vaccines.

Pharmacists are eager, accessible and well placed to administer influenza vaccines.

Seasonal influenzais a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It is easily caught and easily spread.

Influenza typically starts with a headache, chills and cough, followed rapidly by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue and sore throat. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children. Influenza also lowers the body's ability to fight off other infections, which can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis or other complications. In some people, especially children younger than five, pregnant women, adults over 65 and people with chronic illnesses, influenza can cause severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Without vaccination, the flu can last seven to 10 days but cough and weakness can last up to six weeks. Can you afford to be sick for six weeks? Can your business or organization run effectively with absent staff? Each year, 20,000 Canadians are hospitalized and at least 4,000 of them die of influenza and its complications.

Who should receive the vaccine? In short, everyone!

Plus it is free to all Nova Scotians. Moreover, there is a new group of immunizers available to give you your flu shot. This year is the first year that pharmacists will be receiving a supply of the flu shot from the Department of Health Promotion and Prevention. You now have even more options and ease of getting your yearly flu shot … all you need is your Nova Scotia health card. Check with your pharmacy if they have certified immunizer pharmacists on staff to administer the influenza vaccine. This year you can choose what works best for you: your doctor, a public health clinic or your pharmacy.

There are certain people or groups that are high risk for getting complications from influenza. These are people with chronic health conditions such as heart or lung issues, diabetes, cancer, or obesity, to name a few. Also, anyone that is associated with the above group or lives with them needs to get a flu shot. Another very important group of people who should strive to get their flu shot is health-care providers and those who work in health-care fields or facilities so that they minimize the viral shedding and transmission of influenza to their patients and clients.

Those with egg allergies are no longer considered to be at risk with the publically funded flu shot.

After your shot, there may be a little soreness or redness at the injection site. This is normal for any type of shot. It may last a couple of days but should not interfere with your regular routine. If this has happened in the past you may wish to check with your pharmacist for the proper dose of pre-shot acetaminophen for you.

The flu shot will not cause the flu since this is not a live virus vaccine. The flu shot may provide protection up to 12 months but not more. So, it is important for this reason to get your flu shot every year and also because each year the vaccine is tweaked for the upcoming season. Mid-October to mid-November is the ideal time to get your shot. It takes about two weeks for full effect.

You should stay in the clinic or facility where you got your flu shot (or any type of immunization) for at least 15 minutes so that staff can monitor you for any possible side effects or serious reaction. Most people have no adverse effects from the flu shot.



High risk groups that should have a flu shot:

* Children and adults with: anemia, asthma, bronchitis, cancer, COPD/ emphysema, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDs, immune suppression, kidney disease

* Anyone age 65 or older

* Children six months to 59 months

*Caregivers and/or household contacts of anyone in the above groups

*Allpregnant women

* Nursing home or chronic care facility residents and staff

* Health-care workers, firefighters, and police officers


Sandeep Sodhi is an advice for life pharmacist at a Bible Hill based pharmacy. He is a certified immunization and injection administration pharmacist.


The flu, you and what to do

It's a fact: Influenza is much worse than a bad cold.

Commonly know as ‘the flu’ - its real name is influenza, an infection in the airways caused by the influenza virus. Flu is easily caught and easily spread. And although some may be cold-like, they are far more serious: headache, chills and a dry cough are rapidly joined by body aches and fever. While the fever declines on the second or third day of the illness, full recovery may take up to 6 weeks.

It's a fact: Influenza can lead to severe complications for thousands each year.

While most people recover fully, influenza may lead to more severe and life-threatening illnesses, such as pneumonia, resulting in hospitalization and even death. However, vaccination is the only prevention measure that has been proven to reduce death rates caused by influenza.

It's a fact: Immunization side effects are minor.

Most commonly, mild soreness at the vaccination site is the only side effect. Less common are headaches and muscle pains. As a precaution, you will be asked to remain at the clinic for 15-30 minutes following (your very first) vaccination.

It's a fact: Flu vaccine can't give you the flu.

The flu vaccine must meet the very highest standards. In order to offer you the most effective protection, the vaccine must contain part of the virus itself - but the virus is dead (or weakened) and cannot give you the flu.


Does everyone need a flu shot? Everyone can benefit from a flu shot. Flu shots are particularly important for those who have a health condition that makes flu especially dangerous for them and for health care workers and caregivers who come in close contact with these people. Flu is especially dangerous for anyone with a chronic illness and older adults with a weaker immune system.

What if I don’t get a flu shot? Without a flu shot, you are at much greater risk of getting flu and its complications such as pneumonia. Because you can be infected with the flu virus and not have symptoms, you are also at greater risk of passing the illness on to others. When you get a flu shot, you protect not only your own health, but of the people around you.

When’s the best time to get a yearly flu shot? The best time is between mid-October and December. A flu shot takes about two weeks to start to work, and will protect you for about six months (and sometimes up to 12 months)

In Nova Scotia, flu shots are free.







Organizations: Department of Health Promotion and Prevention

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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