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With rollout of flu vaccines, you’re being urged to get the shot

Evan Downey receives his flu shot at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Elmira, one of the locations offering the vaccine. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

It’s time to roll up your sleeve, look away and prepare for your annual flu shot. The Ontario Medical Association and Waterloo Region Public Health are both recommending everyone get the shot in advance of the upcoming flu season.

Evan Downey receives his flu shot at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Elmira, one of the locations offering the vaccine.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Evan Downey receives his flu shot at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Elmira, one of the locations offering the vaccine. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Dr. Ved Tandan, president of the Ontario Medical Association, notes the shot is free and readily available: you can get it at your doctor’s office, among other locations.

“We recommend everyone get the flu shot and that’s because it’s the best defense against getting sick from the flu during flu season,” Tandan said. “We know that the flu is a potentially very serious illness and certain people can be bedridden and even die as a result of it.”

He said the flu is a highly contagious disease and it spreads very easily from contact with people who have the flu.

“Particularly seniors, children, people with chronic diseases or who are immune compromised for any reason are the most susceptible to getting the flu and getting really sick from the flu,” Tandan said. “Those people should be vaccinated early. Even healthy people can be bedridden from the flu.”

Tandan added that aside from people with allergies to the vaccine, they encourage everyone to get it because it creates, what they call, herd immunity. This is when the vast majority of the population is immunized against an illness, the likelihood of anyone getting sick goes down dramatically.

“This is the time of year when the virus is most prevalent. We do this every year,” Tandan said. “It’s developed every year to treat the strains we expect to see. It takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to become effective so we encourage people to get it early.”

The Region of Waterloo Public Health recorded its first case of influenza A in the region in late September.

The recommendations for people with symptoms of respiratory illness are “Stay home until the symptoms begin to lessen, cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, immediately dispose of the used tissue and wash hands, use the “Sleeve Sneeze” — cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow of clothing if tissues are not available, frequently wash hands with soap and warm running water or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizer, and not visit persons in hospitals or retirement/long term care homes.”

The vaccines were delivered across the province last week.

The Woolwich Community Health Centre is offering flu shots on November 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on November 27 from 2:30-7 p.m.

Shoppers Drug Mart in Elmira is administering flu shots to anyone who wants one. There is no need to make an appointment and the pharmacists will administer the shot at the pharmacy.

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