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Flu shots–for free

Winter is soon approaching and so it’s that time of year again to get a flu shot. By getting the flu shot you can protect yourself from catching influenza, otherwise known as the flu. Influenza is a viral infection that causes fever, headache, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches and exhaustion. Unlike the common cold, the symptoms of the flu feel worse and can lead to more serious illness or even death. The flu can last long, cause complications and can be dangerous to the elderly. The flu virus can be more dangerous to those with weakened immune systems and those with chronic diseases. The illness is easily spread from person to person through direct contact of nasal fluids from blowing the nose or saliva droplets from coughing. One can carry and spread the flu virus without noticing any symptoms.

Help prevent the spread of the flu. Wash your hands with soap and water after blowing your nose or coughing on your hands. When coughing, cover your mouth with a tissue or with your arm instead of using your hands. Stay home if you are sick to prevent the spread of your germs. If you have flu symptoms, do not visit patients in the hospital or personal care homes.

According to the Manitoba Health website ( health/flu) free yearly flu shots are available to you if you are:
  • age 65 or older

  • a child age six to 23 months

  • an adult or child with heart or lung disease, or other chronic illness • a health care worker • a first responder (police officer, fire fighter, paramedic)

  • a household contact of someone under age two, or 65 years of age and older • pregnant (regardless of trimester or due date)

If the above does not apply to you, talk to your doctor’s office or pharmacist about purchasing the vaccine. Some employers may also provide the flu shot free of charge, so just ask at work.

There are some common misconceptions about the flu shot. The vaccination does not contain a live virus, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. It is important to have a flu shot each year because the influenza virus changes every year and protection from the vaccine decreases over time. So if you got the flu shot last year, you may not be protected this year.

Some possible side effects to the flu shot may be redness, swelling or soreness at the site of injection. Other reactions may be headache, fever, chills, tiredness, and tenderness or muscle pain. Severe side effects from the flu shot are rare. If you are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine, then you should not get the flu shot.

For more information about flu shots visit the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority website which has a calendar of public flu shots available at various clinics or contact Health Links at 788- 8200.

Armalyn Tesoro is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. She is currently working as a licensed community pharmacist at Wal- Mart on Ellice and Empress.

The above information is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor, pharmacist or qualified health care professional to receive proper medical treatment.

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