Flu season going 'full tilt' on West Coast, making its way to East Coast

Want to avoid the flu? The head of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union says get your flu shot.

'Nobody wants to be sick for Christmas, so they should get their flu shot now,' says NSNU head

This year's flu shot targets the particular strain that appears to be making the rounds in North America. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Headaches, high fevers and chills are all signs it's flu season and the president of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union is encouraging people to get a flu shot before they reach that state.

"There's a lot of science that proves that having the vaccine, you are less likely to get the flu," said Janet Hazelton. 

"It doesn't mean you won't, but you are less likely to get the flu if you take the vaccine."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu shots typically reduce the chance of coming down with the illness by about 50 to 60 per cent.

Hazelton acknowledged last year's vaccine wasn't as effective as hoped, but said this year's shot targets the particular strain that appears to be making the rounds in North America.

The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union is launching a campaign to encourage people to get a flu shot. (CBC)

Hazelton said flu season is already going "full tilt" in B.C. and will probably be felt in this province this month and next.

"Nobody wants to be sick for Christmas, so they should get their flu shot now," she said. "And it's so easy."

Nova Scotia is once again offering free shots, which are now available from most pharmacies, family doctors, family practice nurses and nurse practitioners.

'No reason ... not to get the flu shot'

The province is strongly encouraging higher risk groups, including seniors and young children, to get vaccinated.

The union is launching a campaign targeting younger, healthier Nova Scotians as well, using the slogan "What are you missing out on when you have the flu?"

"There really is no reason, unless you have a philosophical reason, not to get the flu shot in Nova Scotia," said Hazelton.

Health-care workers are not required to get the flu shot, she said, but the union encourages members to get vaccinated because they deal with those who are sick.

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Amy Smith

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After spending more than a decade as a reporter covering the Nova Scotia legislature, Amy Smith joined CBC News in 2009 as host for CBC Nova Scotia News as well as Atlantic Tonight at 11. She can be reached at amy.smith@cbc.ca or on Twitter @amysmithcbc