Get your shots, health minister urges as flu season begins in Manitoba

A flu shot is a good prevention against a pending influenza pandemic that worries the Public Health Agency of Canada

A yearly flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu illness. "The vaccine is safe and I encourage everyone to get a flu shot", Health and Community Services Minister John Haggie said in the news release.

Last year, influenza contributed to 12 deaths and the hospitalization of 150 Manitobans, said Dr. Elise Weiss, acting chief provincial public health officer.

Flu is caused by the influenza virus and is spread mainly by coughing and sneezing.

Some doctors in Canada have voiced concerns that North America could be walloped by a nastier-than-usual influenza season.

Interior Health also reminds the public that during the influenza season visitors who have not had a flu shot are required to wear a mask when visiting Interior Health hospitals, health centres and residential care facilities, including contracted facilities.

People with chronic health conditions like diabetes, anemia, obesity, and cardiac or pulmonary disorders.

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Influenza, or the flu, is an infection that can be caused by several types of influenza virus. Manitoba is also the first province to introduce a high-dose flu vaccine for vulnerable residents of personal care homes.

As an alternative to the regular flu shot, some Manitobans may be eligible to receive the FluMist Quadrivalent vaccine in the form of a nasal spray. Local pharmacists can give immunizations to people older than seven.

"The best ways to help protect yourself and those around you from influenza are to get immunized, wash your hands frequently, and to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue".

People can still get a flu shot free of charge as part of an office visit with their family physician, the department said.

Goertzen said the vaccine keeps people healthy and reduces the strain on the health-care system. You can also find a flu clinic near you by visiting the Influenza Clinic Locator (http://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu) on the ImmunizeBC website.

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