Four things you need to know about flu season

"Typically we get flu season starting (with) sporadic cases around now, with an increase in late December and early January", said Rob Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer, in an interview this week. We are entering the peak of flu season much earlier this year, so if you haven't gotten a flu shot yet, please get one.

She's urging all Winnipeggers to get the free flu shot from their family doctor, public health nurse or pharmacy, despite some evidence in Western Canada suggesting that it's not as effective this year as it has been in past years.

∫ Children 12 and under will be prohibited from visiting patients' rooms, as they are more likely to have and transmit respiratory infections. During winter months, more people are inside and the last present you want to give is influenza. Like previous year, the vaccine is only offered in the form of shots.

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The Director of the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Service, Dr Kevin Kelleher encouraged people to get vaccinated, particularly those over 65, pregnant women and those under 65 with various health conditions.

But those who got the vaccine might see milder cases if flu infection does occur.

Last flu season, the virus caused 829 hospitalizations and 56 deaths. Now, the OSDH said 262 are in the hospital with the flu.

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For people with confirmed or suspected influenza, particular those who are at high risk for complications, it's important to seek treatment with influenza antiviral medications as close to the onset of illness as possible.

The best way to protect against the flu, nearly every health care provider will tell patients, is through the flu vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend an annual flu vaccine for all people ages six months and older. But there's also been an above-average number of children being hospitalized for flu since November. Symptoms of flu include fever, chills, body aches, and a cough or sore throat.

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Immunization is our most potent weapon against the flu (followed by the usual admonitions to regularly wash your hands, sneeze and cough into your sleeve, and stay home when you're sick). While the elderly, the young and those with compromised immune systems are usually more at risk.

  • Ryan Wade