Cornwall Ontario — This year’s influenza (flu) vaccine may not be a perfect match to the currently circulating strain of flu virus, but it’s still worth getting, according the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). Reports have indicated that the Influenza A-H3N2 strain of flu that’s been most common so far this season has mutated slightly, so it doesn’t perfectly match the strain that this year’s flu vaccine protects against. The mismatch means that some people may still get the flu, even if they’ve been vaccinated. However, getting the flu shot is still recommended because it does provide some protection – especially important since this year’s strain of flu virus can cause more severe infection than other strains.
“The flu vaccine is still effective, even if slightly mismatched,” states Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. He explains that even if people who are vaccinated still get the flu, it will be milder than if they weren’t vaccinated at all. The vaccine can still reduce the severity and length of infection, and prevent flu-related hospitalization and even deaths.
“Partial protection against the flu virus from a mismatched vaccine is better than no protection at all, especially in the case of people who are most at risk, such as the elderly, young children and people with chronic illnesses.” Dr. Roumeliotis also points out that the flu vaccine protects against two other strains of influenza: H1N1 and Influenza B, which often shows up later in the winter.
In addition to getting your flu shot, the EOHU recommends the following simple measures for helping prevent the spread of flu:
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from people who are ill.
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve rather than your hands.
- Frequently clean commonly-touched surfaces.
- Stay home when you’re sick, and keep your children home when they’re sick.
- Avoid visiting hospitals or long-term care facilities if you’re unwell.
For more information, or to book an appointment for a flu shot, call the Eastern Ontario Health Unit at 613-933-1375. Ask for Health Line.