Flu shot season has arrived

MANITOULIN— The dreaded flu season is here and it’s time to review what we can do to avoid contracting and spreading the flu virus.

According to the Ontario government (www. ontario.ca/page/flu-facts), “seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue as late as May. Peak flu season is in a 10 to 16 week period that usually starts in December. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of the population will get the flu each year.”

What is the flu?

The flu, short for influenza, is an infection of the upper airway that is caused by an influenza virus.

Influenza spreads easily through coughing, sneezing, or having face-to-face contact. Touching tiny droplets from a cough or a sneeze on another person or object and then touching your own eyes, mouth or nose before washing your hands can result in infection.

Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and extreme fatigue and are more serious than the comparatively lesser symptoms of a cold.

The risk of complications from the flu include pneumonia and is greater for seniors 65 years and older, very young children, women in the second half of their pregnancy and people who have certain chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems. If you develop flu-like symptoms and you have a condition that puts you at higher risk of complications, consult your health care provider.

Flu prevention

There are many choices available when it comes to making decisions about our health. Many people find relief through a wide range of medical and non-medical practices such as mainstream medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, aboriginal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, to name a few.

Everyone’s got home remedies they swear by, sometimes handed down through generations, including eating cloves of raw garlic, homemade chicken soup, drinking elderberry extract, green tea or tea of fresh ginger or ginseng, gargling with salt water or having a hot rum toddy before getting into bed with a hot water bottle.

Basic recommendations we can all carry out during this season to reduce the risk and spread of infection include:

Wash hands regularly with soap and water, dispose used tissues in the waste basket or garbage; cough and sneeze into a shirt sleeve rather than in hands; stay home when ill and rest; get some exercise to boost the immune system and stay hydrated to eliminate toxins.

Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if your symptoms get worse, such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain, or signs of dehydration (such as dizziness when standing or low urine output).

The flu shot

The annual flu shot, provided free to all Ontarians, is widely promoted as the most effective prevention method against flu.

The Ontario government website claims that “every year Ontario’s flu shot program prevents 30,000 emergency room visits and 200,000 doctor’s office visits.”

According to Justeen Mansouriam-Christakos of the Communicable Diseases Team of the Sudbury and District Health Unit (SDHU) in Mindemoya, “getting an influenza vaccine is the best protection against the flu and spreading it to others who may not be able to be vaccinated for various medical and non-medical reasons.”

The SDHU receives all vaccines for the region and distributes them to health teams, pharmacies, doctors and clinics all over the Island. This year, the flu vaccine will be available for distribution on October 21 from the SDHU. The closest offices are in Mindemoya and Espanola, and they administer flu shots there by appointment only. They will hold a Community Flu Clinic in Mindemoya on November 10.

Below are locations for this year’s flu shot, once the vaccine has arrived. 

Check first to make sure this year’s vaccine has arrived at the location you want.

No appointment is necessary, except where noted.

Aundeck Omni Kaning: Naandewegamik Health Centre, Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm, Fridays from 8 am to 3:30 pm; Mnaamodzawin Health Services, for information call (705) 368-2182.

Gore Bay: Robertson’s Pharmacy, Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 5:30 pm; Gore Bay Medical Centre, Walk-in Flu Clinics on Friday, October 30 and Friday, November 6, 9 am to 12 pm and 1 to 3:30 pm each day.

Little Current: Little Current Guardian Pharmacy, Monday to Thursday and Saturday from 9 am to 5:30 pm, Fridays from 9 am to 7 pm, Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm.

Manitowaning: Guardian Pharmacy, Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 5:30 pm.

M’Chigeeng: M’Chigeeng Health Centre, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm (bring health card).

Mindemoya: Sudbury and District Health Unit (SDHU), flu shots from October 26, Monday and Wednesday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, call for an appointment, 705-370-9200; SDHU Community Flu Shot Clinic. Tuesday, November 10, 3:30 to 6:30 pm, Mindemoya Public School; Mindemoya Guardian Pharmacy, Monday through Saturdays, 9 am to 5:30 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm.

Wikwemikong: Wikwemikong Health Centre, flu shot clinics dates and times will be posted in the community. Phone (705) 859-3164.

Northeastern Manitoulin, Manitoulin Central and Assiginack Family Health Teams:  If you are a rostered patient, you will be contacted by that team about flu shot availability, or contact them directly.