Cornwall Ontario — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is reminding residents that the flu shot is still available through healthcare providers, some local pharmacies or by appointment at one of the EOHU’s offices. The beginning of flu season has been marked by the return of the H1N1 influenza virus in various regions of Canada. Current local flu activity is low, but strains that are circulating sporadically in the area include both H1N1 and H3N2 influenza. Experts are predicting that more cases may appear with the return to school.
While H1N1 poses the most risk for children under age 5 and adults between the ages of 20 and 64, the H3N2 strain typically carries the most risk for seniors (adults aged 65 and over). “It’s important for everyone to get vaccinated,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “This year’s flu shot is a good match against both H1N1 and H3N2, which are strains of Influenza A. It also protects against Influenza B, which often shows up later in the flu season. So if you’ve had your flu shot this year, you’re protected against all three strains, including H1N1.” He adds that people who get the shot not only protect themselves – they also reduce the risk of infecting their loved ones as well as vulnerable people around them.
Besides getting immunized, one of the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect vulnerable members of the public is to stay home when sick. Do not visit relatives in residences, long-term care facilities and hospitals if you are sick. You can also help reduce the spread of flu by washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow.
For more information about the flu and how to prevent it from spreading, visit the EOHU’s website at www.eohu.ca or call 613-933-1375 or 1 800 267-7120 and ask for Health Line.