Sudbury

It's not too late to get your flu shot, pharmacist says

A Sudbury pharmacist says although the peak of flu season is starting to wind down, it’s still recommended you get a flu shot to avoid future illness.

Catherine Nolin says while the flu peak may be over, there may be a ‘resurgence’ in February

Sudbury pharmacist Catherine Nolin says it's important to get a flu shot, even if "you might not get 100 per cent protection against the flu. But your chances of getting one of the most common flu strains are dramatically decreased." (Wendy Bird/CBC)

A Sudbury pharmacist says although the peak of flu season is starting to wind down, it's still recommended you get a flu shot to avoid future illness.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Influenza A is the most common flu virus circulating in the country. It adds this year's vaccine is about 72 per cent effective against the predominant circulating strain.

Catherine Nolin, a pharmacist in Sudbury, says getting a flu shot not only protects you, but it also protects others around you from contracting the flu — something that is known as "herd immunity".

"I want to protect anyone and take any kind of defence I can against the flu," she said.

"Other than the flu shot, it's hand hygiene and basically staying away from people who are sick — [those] are generally the other two defences from the flu and that's it."

Nolin says the best time to get the shot is in the fall, as the virus typically peaks in December and January.

"But sometimes we see a resurgence in February," she said.

"It depends on the severity of the strains and what kind of strains are going around."

However, even if you've rolled up your sleeve to get the shot, she warns you still may get sick.

"The flu is a virus and the virus that they might immunize against can mutate," she said.

"They try and match as best as possible. So you might not get 100 per cent protection against the flu. But your chances of getting one of the most common flu strains are dramatically decreased."

'Sick-etiquette' 

Nolin says sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether you have a cold or flu virus. She says a cold tends to come on gradually and can last a couple of weeks, while the flu hits you hard and includes a fever, weakness and tiredness.

If you do contract a virus, Nolin says it's important to practice "sick-etiquette" and stay at home.

"Don't go to work [and] don't go to school," she said.

"You have to monitor your fever to make sure that your fever-free for at least 24 hours before you go back to work or school."

Nolin says people have to let the flu run its course. But in the meantime, symptoms can be relieved by staying hydrated, resting and taking medication for fever.

Spring is around the corner, so who's thinking about the flu...right? The public health agency of Canada says Influenza A is the most common influenza virus circulating in Canada. And they say that this year's vaccine is about 72 per cent effective against the predominant circulating strain. The agency says the eastern part of the nation (including northeastern Ontario) is reporting higher levels of influenza activity right now. So, if you haven't gotten a flu shot, it's not too late. The agency says the vaccine appears to offer protection for all age groups ... especially young children. Kids have been disproportionately affected by the flu this season. Catherine Nolin is a Sudbury pharmacist. She spoke with Up North's Wendy Bird about some of the questions many pharmacists get around the flu shot. 7:48

With files from Wendy Bird

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