It is flu season and Nova Scotians, especially children younger than 5 and young and middle-age adults, are reminded to get a flu shot and take other precautions to avoid getting sick and spreading the disease.
On pins and needles: reporter John Brannen gets a flu shot from Shoppers Drug Mart owner and pharmacist Ron Matlock at the pharmacy on Thursday. This year, in addition to doctors, nurses and clinics, Nova Scotians can receive their flu shots from trained pharmacists. PHOTO – CAROLYN MASON
"So far we are seeing a typical flu season in Nova Scotia and we can expect to see our number of cases rise in the coming weeks," said Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia's deputy chief medical officer of health. "H1N1 is now one of the strains we see every year and it is included in the vaccination. We know that some other Canadian provinces are seeing serious illness among unvaccinated people and this underlines the importance of getting a flu shot."
The flu shot is free for Nova Scotians and is available from family doctors, family practice nurses, nurse practitioners, most pharmacists, and clinics offered by Public Health Services and some workplaces.
The vaccine is recommended for all Nova Scotians, but is especially important for people at high risk of complications including seniors, children age six months to five years, Aboriginal people, pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes. This also includes those who live with, or care for, people in high-risk groups.
"Early indications from other provinces suggest that some serious infections are occurring in young and middle-age adults and children under 5 during this flu season," said Dr. Atherton. "This underlines the importance of everyone getting a flu shot."
Proper hygiene, such as handwashing and people covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, is also important to prevent spreading the flu. People with flu symptoms should stay home and minimize close contact with others. People with questions can call 811 and speak to a registered nurse.
Flu symptoms often include sudden high fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny, stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat, but can lead to more severe illness such as pneumonia or even death.