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Flu shot: Protection not only for you

Flu shotBy Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The aches, the pains, the fatigue, chills, cough, soar throat, nausea; the symptoms are numerous, but there is one way you can prevent them: get the flu shot.

And while you’re protecting yourself from those symptoms, you can also be protecting those around you.

“Being young, peoples’ immune systems are going to be stronger and early on they might not have the full-blown flu systems and they might just think it’s a mild cold and they might pass on the virus not knowing it,” says Oshawa pharmacist Baris Hunter. “That same flu virus can cause much worse systems (in others)…and it could lead to complications.”

Every year, 3,000 people die from flu-related causes, and more than 12,000 are hospitalized in Canada from the virus.

Those most vulnerable are the elderly and the very young, and Hunter says that when we interact with these people, it’s important that we’re vaccinated this flu season.

“When you get the flu shot, you’re not only protecting yourself, but you’re protecting all the other around you as well,” he says.

Last year, the number of people who got the shot plummeted as word circled in the news that the vaccine was not effective anymore.

“Unfortunately, no vaccine is going to be 100-per-cent effective, but still getting the flu shot is the best way to prevent flu related illnesses, so we always recommend that people get the flu shot and especially important to get in early in the season as well.”

Hunter also addressed the myth that the shot actually gives you the flu, something he says has no scientific backing.

“I often hear that from people and it is completely a myth. There is really no science behind it. Sometimes when you get the flu shot, the way the vaccine works is it stimulates your immune system and it sometimes can cause things like mild muscle aches and mild soreness.”

However, that mild soreness only lasts for 24 hours or so, while the flu can last for weeks.

“Even for the young people, it can sometimes be quite severe. It’s much worse than a cold in terms of how long it lasts and often you’re going to be in bed for a week or so,” he says.

Hunter urges everyone to get vaccinated so they don’t miss out on the things they love to do this winter.

“Whether it’s family holidays, social events or work, getting the flu shot will definitely help with that as well.”

To get the flu shot, ask your regular doctor or visit one of Oshawa’s walk-in clinics or Shopper’s Drug Mart as many pharmacists are injection certified and provide the shot.