Lakeridge Health Oshawa says stay safe – get your flu shot

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Published November 19, 2021 at 11:13 am

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With the flu season now upon us, along with rising case numbers of COVID-19, Durham residents are reminded to get their annual flu vaccine to stay safe and prevent the spread of the flu virus.

“After almost two years of COVID-19, with health-care systems across Ontario stretched to the limit, making sure as many Durham Region residents as possible get a flu shot will be critical this winter,” said Dr. Dan Ricciuto, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Lakeridge Health. “In addition to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, getting the flu shot ensures that you are able to protect yourself, your family, and the most vulnerable people in our community and that you are helping to ease the burden on the health-care system.”

Ricciuto noted that the flu vaccine is safe to be given at the same time as, or at any time before or after administration of other vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, based on current guidance from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). It is safe for individuals aged six months or older, including pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The flu is a lung infection that is typically associated with cough, high fever, headaches, and muscle pain. Some people may recover from flu symptoms after a few days, but for many patients – including the frail elderly, the very young, and people with chronic conditions – it can lead to serious illness and even death. The flu vaccine is the easiest and most effective way to prevent the flu.

The flu shot is free and easily available at physicians’ offices, clinics, public health units, pharmacies, and in some workplaces.

Last year Durham and other jurisdictions across Ontario and the world experienced a lower than usual case count of influenza. Ricciuto said the uptake of the flu vaccine combined with other public health practices, such as hand washing, wearing a mask, and physical distancing, helped to keep the virus at bay.

“With our society opening up, more people getting together, and kids back in school, there are many more opportunities to pass viruses to each other, including the flu and COVID-19 viruses,” Ricciuto said. “Because flu and COVID-19 present somewhat similarly, we remind Durham Region residents, regardless of their vaccine status for both viruses, to book a COVID-19 assessment test and self-isolate to prevent further spread if they develop respiratory symptoms.”

If you are at risk of complications from the flu or COVID-19 and develop symptoms, it is best to speak with your primary care provider or visit an urgent care centre or walk-in clinic. Also, nurses and physicians at Durham Region COVID-19 Assessment Clinics can both provide COVID-19 testing and diagnose and treat individuals experiencing symptoms related to common upper respiratory ailments, ear infections, and sinus issues. To book an appointment at any COVID-19 Assessment Centre, visit our website www.lh.ca.

Unless you are very sick, it is best to avoid the emergency department. Durham Region residents can also access medical consultations through the Durham Virtual Urgent Care Clinic.

For a list of urgent care and walk-in clinics and information about when people should go to the emergency department or a community health-care provider, visit Emergency and Urgent Care Options on the Lakeridge Health website. Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 can also provide health advice and information.

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