Flu Shot (Blog - 14) - My grandmother lost her 23 year old brother in World War 1. He died in Europe, October 7, 1918, of the Spanish Flu. The Spanish Flu pandemic killed 50 million people worldwide between 1918 and 1919. In those years, there were no flu shots. The world didn't even know how the flu spread from person to person.
We have learned a lot since then about the influenza virus. We know how it spreads and we have developed vaccines against it.
In Canada, people still die from the flu. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with other health conditions (ex.asthma, diabetes, COPD) are most at risk of getting very sick from the flu.
Because we know more about the flu virus, we are more prepared to fight it. We know how the flu virus spreads. The flu spreads very easily and very quickly. When someone ill with the flu sneezes, coughs, or even talks, the flu virus is shed in air droplets that can be inhaled by others. It also spreads when an infected person touches an object that is then shared with someone else. We know that hand-washing with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help prevent this kind of spread of the virus.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the flu shot and get it early.
Getting a flu shot not only protects you from falling ill but it also protects those at-risk children and elderly. If you don't get the flu, you can't spread it.
You can't get the flu from the flu shot, but you may get the flu before your flu shot has time to work. It takes your body about two weeks to figure out how it's going to fight the flu. This means that you aren't protected from the flu until 2 weeks after your needle poke.
It is worth repeating that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The vaccine does not have active virus in it. Getting a flu shot is like giving your body an advanced copy of the enemy's battle plan. Your body has a chance to line up some defenses before the enemy arrives.
It's also important to remember that getting the flu shot doesn't mean that you won't get sick all winter. It only protects you from the influenza virus. Again, this is where hand-washing can be so important. Good old soap and water can help you fight all of those other germs that make their way around town each winter.
The flu shot is free for all Saskatchewan residents. If you have access to a computer, you can find a list of flu clinics at www.4flu.ca, or call 811 for more information.
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