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Durham residents reminded to get their annual flu shot

Influenza season has arrived, and residents are reminded to get their flu shot.

“The best way you can stop influenza is by getting the influenza vaccine every year,” said Brandi Pigou, a public health nurse with the Durham Region Health Department. “The influenza vaccine is safe and protects you from the influenza virus which causes a contagious respiratory illness. The vaccine is also free and recommended for everyone six-months and older.”

Individuals who have influenza may experience complications including pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections and, in rare cases, death.

For most, the flu will last between seven to 10 days with symptoms such as muscle aches, chills, loss of appetite, sore throat, fever, headache and/or fatigue.

Each year in Ontario, the flu is responsible for approximately 4,750 hospitalizations and 1,365 deaths, with the highest mortality rate occurring in adults 65 and older.

“Many people use the word ‘flu’ to describe the common cold, but influenza is a serious illness,” explains Pigou. “Getting sick with the flu can be very severe for children, older adults, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women. By getting the flu shot each year you protect yourself as well as those around you, including our community’s most vulnerable populations.”

After receiving the vaccine, it takes about two weeks to develop protection against influenza.

This season, the influenza vaccine is available at more than 400 locations across Durham Region including local health care providers, such as family doctors, nurse practitioners, walk-in clinics and local pharmacies.

Pharmacies can provide the vaccine to anyone over the age of five-years-old.

Adults 65 and older can only receive the high-dose influenza vaccine from a doctor or walk-in clinic, as pharmacies do not carry stock of the high-dose vaccine.

Additionally, health officials note there is no nasal vaccine available in Canada this year.