Influenza season is here

Flu (short for Influenza) Season is here and of course that means Flu-shots are here as well.
“Throughout the year, we try and give our people the best health care service. Right now, our focus is Influenza,” says Public Health Nurse at the McLennan Hospital, Brenda Barnsdale.
There are many things that people need to know to stay in the Flu-free zone.
The yearly battle with the “flu-bug” that troubles Canadians each winter can be more than just a pest that makes you feel sick for a few days. It can kill you!
Many people tend to think of anything which causes the sniffles, coughing, headache, fever, muscle ache or tummy upset as the flu. however, many viruses, including those that cause the common cold, can produce symptoms like these. That is why influenza is often confused with other illnesses.
The flu-shot will not protect people from the common cold or other illnesses that produce flu-like symptoms.
Influenza is many times worse than the common cold and may be life-threatening.
If you have ever had true Influenza, you would know it.
“I’ve had people come to me and say that the flu shot made them sick. That is impossible because the Influenza vaccine contains only killed virus, which cannot cause the flu. People get the misconception that the flu shot will prevent them from getting fevers, coughing and so on, but it won’t,” says Barnsdale.
The purpose of the Flu-Shot is to kill the deadly virus which is transmitted from person to person.
According to Barnsdale, someone doesn’t necessarily have to show flu symptoms to pass on the virus. This is why getting the flu shot is important, because anyone that one may come in contact with could be passing the virus on to them.
Within the community, Barnsdale and co-workers are hosting flu-shot clinics, many of which have already passed. But it isn’t too late to get vaccinated. The clinic will be in Falher on Oct. 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Provincial Building by appointment only.
According to Barnsdale, the reason that patient need to make appointments is so that nurses can gather their medical history prior to the vaccination to provide them with the safest access to vaccines. If reactions were to occur, emergency medication would be on standby.
“We’re lucky, because around here, we have a stable population an so medical history is easier for us to access because we have it on hand. Keep in mind that everything is kept confidential under the Public Health Act,” says Barnsdale.
The initial focus every year is on the seniors because they are at the highest risk with weaker immune systems and the kids because viruses are easily transmitted through schools.
The Peace Health Region and Alberta Health pays for all vaccines for Health Care Workers.
Every year, around mid-October to March, Barnsdale goes to the schools to check the absence rates. If the rate is 10% or more, she will get names and personally go directly to her patient to give flu-shots.
“Some schools and companies may pick up the flu-shot charges. This is beneficial because the virus travels quickly and results in an increase in absenteeism which ends up costing more than the shot,” says Barnsdale.
As for all other community members, the flu-shot is only $10, and according to Barnsdale, worth it.
It takes approximately three weeks before the body benefits from the vaccine.
“People will say that they have good immune systems and that they want to let it work, and that’s good, but what they don’t understand is that they can still spread the virus and without having any side effects,” says Barnsdale.
“We aren’t trying to scare anyone, we just want people to realize that we want to protect them and the people they come in contact with,” says Barnsdale.
Because the weather is fluctuating from hot to cold at this time of the year, people are more susceptible to Influenza.
Now is the time to get your flu-shot. To make an appointment, call Brenda Barnsdale at Public Health Services at 324-3750.