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Residents encouraged to get their flu shots

The Durham region health department is reminding residents to get their flu shots, as flu season is in full swing.

According to the health department, there have been more than 40 cases of the flu virus reported since September. Of these cases, the strain of flu A has been predominant this season with a total of 37 cases, followed by three cases of flu B and one case of both flu A and B.

Based on previous years, there are typically two waves of the virus, with flu A peaking in January and February, and flu B peaking in March and April.

“Even though this season’s numbers are similar to last season, it’s still important that we do our part to stop the spread of the flu as every season is unpredictable,” said Brenda Kwan, manager of health protection with the health department. “Since the season has just started, it’s not too late to get your seasonal flu shot.”

This year’s flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older and protects against four strains of the virus.

The flu vaccine is offered through local health care providers, such as family doctors, nurse practitioners and walk-in clinics. Pharmacies are able to offer the vaccine to residents over the age of five.

Residents and families with children under the age of five, who have no OHIP coverage, or no access to a health care provider, can call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.

“When you get the flu shot, you’re not only protecting yourself, you’re also protecting your loved ones and vulnerable populations,” said Kwan. “Everyone can help prevent the spread of infections by getting their flu shot and practicing proper infection prevention and control measures.”

Other measures residents can practice include staying home if symptoms present that may indicate an infection such as fever, coughing, sneezing, vomiting or diarrhea.

Another measure that can be taken is making sure to wash hands frequently with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Being sure to cover mouths and noses with a tissue or elbow/sleeve when coughing or sneezing will help as well.

People should avoid touching their face, especially their eyes, nose and mouth, and should avoid sharing personal items such as eating utensils, drink containers, lip products or toothbrushes.

For more information about the flu, including flu vaccine information and weekly updates of the Durham region influenza bulletin, visit durham.ca/flu

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