MANITOULIN – This year the annual influenza epidemic is on a collision course with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) is encouraging everyone six months of age and older to get their flu shot and avoid the “twindemic.” Even more important this year, the flu shot helps keep you healthy and helps keep our health care system from being overwhelmed by people who may be ill with serious respiratory illness, a press release from PHSD states.
“The flu shot is safe, free, widely available, and is proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to flu,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health with PHSD. “With COVID-19 circulating, we need to do all we can to stay healthy. At this time of the year, in addition to washing your hands, staying home when ill, keeping your distance and masking, this includes getting your free flu shot.”
The flu vaccine protects against influenza A and influenza B: the two strains that cause seasonal epidemics of disease. Although the flu shot doesn’t provide protection against COVID-19, it is your best defense against the flu and will help keep you healthy. Having COVID-19 and the flu close together, or at the same time, could put you at higher risk for severe illness.
The influenza vaccine is readily available at many locations throughout the community including by appointment with local pharmacies and health care providers’ offices. PHSD also offers the vaccine by appointment. Please plan to get your flu shot as soon as it becomes available since it can take up to two weeks for your body to build immunity against the viruses.
Important things to remember: Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; practice physical distancing and wear a face covering when distancing is not possible; cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue; don’t touch your face; stay at home when you’re sick; clean and disinfect surfaces and shared items; and get tested if you aren’t sure if your symptoms are from the flu or are a symptom of COVID-19.
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus that can cause fever, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. Most people will recover from influenza infection within a week to 10 days, but some are at greater risk of developing more severe complications. Children can also have mild stomach upset due to influenza. The most common symptoms usually include fever, runny nose and cough.
This year, to help protect you and your community, get your flu shot and continue to follow public health measures to prevent infection and spread of both the flu and COVID-19. For more information about the influenza vaccine, ways to prevent getting sick, as well as how to treat mild symptoms at home, visit the health unit’s website at www.phsd.ca or call 705-522-9200, ext. 301 (toll-free 1-866-522-9200).