H1N1 Influenza – What do you need to know?
THUNDER BAY – Deaths from H1N1 Influenza have hit two in Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is calling on people to be immunized against the flu. Getting your flu shot is suggested. If you got the H1N1 flu shot in 2009, it is suggested that will give you some protection but getting a fresh shot will help.
Across Canada, the H1N1 Influenza has been hitting hard. In Alberta the provinces’ Health Services stated that there have been over 965 confirmed flu cases in the province, and there have been five deaths. “Those are only people who have gone to seek medical attention and physicians have done specimens that have been sent to the lab and those have been confirmed positive,” said Alberta Health Services, Dr. Judy McDonald. “We expect that there is much more influenza circulating in our communities that has not been lab confirmed”.
In Toronto, there have been two deaths caused by Influenza.
Is this a reason to panic? In 2012 there were over 120 deaths recorded from Influenza in Toronto. With the proper precautions, and getting a flu shot, you should be fine.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by influenza A and B viruses. In Canada it generally occurs each year in the late fall and winter months. Symptoms typically include the sudden onset of headache, chills, cough, fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
Most people will recover within a week or ten days, but some – including those 65 years of age and older and adults and children with chronic conditions – are at greater risk of more severe complications, such as pneumonia.
Those who are feeling unwell and have respiratory symptoms, including a cough and fever, should stay home and wait until they are feeling better before getting the flu shot.
Children over the age of 6 months and those visiting the clinic must have the consent of a legal parent or guardian if they are under the age of 16.
Please wear short sleeves to make it easier to be immunized.
This clinic is scent safe so please do not wear scented products.
Symptoms may vary from person to person. For example, the elderly may not have a fever, while children can have symptoms like earaches or stomach problems. The cough and fatigue can persist for up to several weeks, making the return to personal and work activities difficult.
Where to get a Flu Shot
In Thunder Bay, the next Influenza Shot clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, January 8, 2014. Call 625-8346 to make an appointment.
To find a flu shot provider near you, visit Ontario.ca/flu and click on the “FIND A FREE FLU CLINIC NEAR YOU” button.
Some people should not be vaccinated. These include children under six months of age, and people who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or a previous dose of the vaccine.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit reminds the public that they can prevent getting and spreading the flu and other infections by:
Getting a seasonal flu shot from the Health Unit or local health care provider.
Washing hands often, for at least 15 seconds with soap and warm water, or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Covering coughs/sneezes with the upper sleeve if no tissue is available.
Putting all used tissues in the garbage right away.
Staying at home from work, school or social events if sick to avoid spreading infections to others.
Benefits of Flu Shots
The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre reports, “The benefits of flu shots far outweigh the risks. The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza because it does not contain any live virus. The most common side effect is soreness at the site of injection, which may last a couple of days. You might also notice fever, fatigue and muscle aches within six to 12 hours after your shot, and these effects may last a day or two. Some people develop a condition called “oculo-respiratory syndrome” after a flu shot. The symptoms include red eyes and respiratory effects such as cough, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, or sore throat. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and disappear within 48 hours”.
“Severe allergic reactions to flu shots are rare. A rare but possible side effect of influenza vaccination is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). This is an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system and results in weakness and abnormal sensations. But, most patients recover fully. Your chance of developing GBS as a result of a flu shot is one in a million”.