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Peak flu season is here, but vaccines still available

The flu season is here and is expected to peak in around this time.

There is still time for Durham Region residents to get their annual flu shot and prevent the spread of the virus.

The flu is a lung infection that is typically associated with cough, high fever, headaches and muscle pain. Sometimes it can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, a heart attack and stroke.

People tend to get sick with the flu in the winter when they spend more time indoors in close contact with others.

Anyone can get sick from influenza. Some people may recover from symptoms on their own after a few days.

Other people including frail older adults, infants and children, and people with chronic conditions can become seriously ill and even die after contracting influenza.

According Dr. Dan Riccuito, chief medical director of infection prevention and control at Lakeridge Health, the flu vaccine is the easiest and most effective way to prevent illness. The most common side effect of getting the flu shot is soreness at the site of the injection, and the vaccine cannot give you the flu.

The flu shot Is safe for individuals six months of age and older, including pregnant women and nursing mothers;
Is free and easily available at physicians’ offices, clinics, public health units, pharmacies and in some workplaces.

“The flu shot is the best tool available to protect ourselves from getting influenza this season and avoid a visit to the emergency department or hospitalization,” said Ricciuto.

If people are at risk of complications from the flu, it is best to visit their family physician, an urgent care centre or a walk-in clinic. Unless people are very sick, it is often best to avoid the emergency department. 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 Lakeridge Health’s website.