NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang
With the holiday season in full swing, families, friends and crowds will gather for celebrations, shopping and other holiday activities. While the season is a great time to catch up with loved ones, catching or spreading the flu won’t bring that warm, fuzzy feeling.
To all Nova Scotians who’ve already gotten their vaccine – thank you. To those of you who haven’t – it’s not too late.
The influenza vaccine is safe, simple and effective. It’s the best defence against the virus. Nova Scotians can still get their flu vaccine free of charge from most pharmacists, family doctors, family practice nurses, nurse practitioners and public health offices.
The flu vaccine is especially important for those in high-risk groups, including seniors, children between six months and five years old, Indigenous people, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes, and people who live with or care for those in high-risk groups.
There are other steps you can take to ensure you’re protected: wash your hands often and well, cough and sneeze into your sleeve, and stay home and away from other people if you have flu symptoms. Going out will only prolong your illness and increase the chance of passing the virus to others.
Flu symptoms often include sudden high fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny, stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat. In some cases, the flu can lead to more severe illness such as pneumonia or even death.
Nova Scotians can call 811 to speak with a registered nurse who can help with management of your symptoms and provide advice about whether you need additional care.
For more information about flu season, visit http://novascotia.ca/flu .