Getting the Flu Shot is Safer Than Getting the Flu

October 29, 2015

For most individuals who get the flu, a contagious respiratory disease, it means 2 to 10 days of feeling weak, sore, headachy, and miserable. However, the flu can lead to serious complications, hospitalization or even death. Seniors, younger children, and individuals with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk for complications from the flu.

“Getting the flu shot is safer than getting the flu” says Dr. Rebecca Van Iersel, Physician Lead at the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). “Even healthy adults can get very sick from the flu and pass it to family, friends, and co-workers.” 

The flu shot is safe. It helps build up your immunity, making you strong and more resistant to the flu.  Canadians have been receiving the flu vaccine for over 50 years and hundreds of millions of flu shots have been given safely every year.

“The flu season usually starts in earnest in November and goes on till May.  So, it is important to get your flu shot as early as possible to get full protection.” notes Dr. Colin Lee, Associate Medical Officer of Health at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.  “Individuals 6 months of age and older are strongly encouraged to get the flu shot.”

The flu shot is available starting October 26th through your family doctor, many North Simcoe Muskoka pharmacies and walk-in medical clinics.  Children under 5 years of age cannot be immunized by pharmacists.  Those families with children under 5 years of age who don’t have a family doctor, or anyone without an Ontario Health card, can contact the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to book an appointment at 1-877-721-7520.

Flu season in Ontario typically starts in the fall and peaks during the holiday season. According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, between 10% and 20% of Ontario’s population will get the flu each year. The flu shot prevents 30,000 visits to the Emergency Room (ER), more than 200,000 doctor visits, 1,000 hospitalizations and 300 deaths.

What do I need to know about getting the flu shot?

  • Get your flu shot early so your body is ready to defend against the flu virus as it takes two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective.
  •  A nasal spray vaccine, FluMist, used in Canada since 2010 is now covered this year by OHIP for children aged 2 to 17 and is just as, if not more, effective than the flu shot. 
  • Serious vaccine side effects are extremely rare. Most common side effects are soreness, redness, or swelling in the place where you got the shot and will only last 1 to 2 days.
  • Find out where you can get the flu shot

With everyone doing their part, residents of North Simcoe Muskoka can avoid long wait-times in the ER and get to enjoy more of what matters most – being healthy and spending time with friends and family.