Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health is encouraging residents to get the influenza shot ahead of the flu season.
The health unit says the sooner a person is immunized against influenza, the sooner they are protected from this contagious and potentially dangerous illness. The unit also adds it is important to get immunized to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and those who are too young to be immunized. KFLA Public Health recommends that all KFLA area residents, not just the young and the elderly, get immunized as soon as the vaccine becomes available.
“You get the greatest protection by being immunized before the influenza season starts. Waiting to be immunized until influenza is in our community is too late,” Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for KFLA Public Health said in a release. “The only way to ensure that a person is protected is to get the vaccine and to get immunized as soon as the vaccine is available.”
Influenza disease usually starts in December and peaks during January or February. As it takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop antibodies that protect against influenza, it is best to get vaccinated well before the virus begins circulating in the community.
“Influenza immunization is the safest, most effective and best defense for keeping people healthy during the influenza season,” said Moore. “Everyone who is six months of age and older is eligible for annual influenza immunization. It is especially important that those at high risk for influenza-related complications such as those with chronic diseases or those who live or work with people who are at high risk for complications, hospitalizations or death, receive influenza vaccine.”
The health unit adds people cannot get influenza from influenza vaccine. Most people have no reaction at all to influenza vaccine, and almost all of those who do have only minor side effects, such as a sore arm or mild fever.
“Getting your flu shot helps to prevent hospitalizations and a large impact on the local health care system.” said Moore. “Now more than ever we need every spare bed to protect any individuals that may need hospitalization due to COVID-19.”
In the KFLA area, there are many simple ways to get influenza immunization. Influenza immunizations are available to residents six months of age and older. Influenza immunizations are available from:
- A primary care provider or family doctor
- A local pharmacist
- KFL&A Public Health has flu clinics, beginning in October. Clinics are for those who are under the age of five and do not have a health care provider, are at high-risk for influenza complications and do not have a health care provider who offers flu immunization, or who do not have Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage.
An increased demand in flu shots this year means people should be prepared to wait. In the last week, pharmacies reported being out of stock across the province. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot says a large shipment of the vaccine is expected to be distributed across the province in the coming days. In September the Ontario government pledged it would spend $70 million on more than five million doses of the vaccine, which is a 16 per cent increase over last year.