According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, an estimated 20,000 hospitalizations may occur and approximately 4,000 Canadians may die from primary influenza illness and related complications. These figures remind us that getting vaccinated every year against influenza is important. Influenza is a serious disease usually accompanied by fever, headaches, cough and fatigue for most healthy adults — but for vulnerable groups such as children under 5 years of age and seniors over 65 years of age, influenza infection can lead to severe symptoms, hospitalization, or even death. Other vulnerable groups that need protection include children and adults with underlying health conditions such as asthma or diabetes, obese individuals, pregnant women, Aboriginal peoples and residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities.

"There is no better benefit than protecting the ones you love by not taking chances with influenza."

Reducing the risk

So why is the onus on healthy adults?  Healthy adults can shed the influenza virus and transmit influenza before they develop symptoms. Vaccination protects everyone from infection by reducing influenza-associated morbidity and mortality among vulnerable groups, including infants younger than 6 months and individuals who do not respond well to the vaccine, such as the elderly. Therefore influenza prevention is a necessity in healthy adults who can pass on the disease to people at high risk of disease or complications.

While hand washing and proper flu etiquette (coughing and sneezing into your sleeve) and staying away from others when you are sick are important at decreasing the spread of influenza, the most effective way to prevent the spread of influenza is to be vaccinated. The seasonal influenza vaccine has been offered routinely in Canada since 1946, and it currently protects against three strains of influenza viruses. It is considered safe and effective for all Canadians over the age of 6 months.

Individuals who don’t get influenza can’t spread it to others. There is no better benefit than protecting the ones you love by not taking chances with influenza. To find out more about getting vaccinated for influenza, talk to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or public health office or visit immunize.ca.

The seasonal influenza vaccine has been offered routinely in Canada since 1946, and it currently protects against three strains of influenza viruses.

Tips for staying healthy

1. Fill up on vitamin D
Ensuring you fulfill your recommended 1,000 IU per day of vitamin D throughout the winter months can result in fewer health issues ranging from common colds to cancer.

2. Keep a rich diet of soluble fibre
Foods like citrus fruits, apples, carrots and beans can aid with inflammation and help boost immunity. Females need 25 grams and males require 38 grams daily.

3. Stay lean and mean
Eating more than what your body needs can put a damper on your immune system. Cut out unhealthy foods and choose lean proteins like fish, low-calorie dairy or chicken.


  Dr. Susan Bowles
  Associate Professor, Dalhousie University, Chair of Immunize Canada

  Dr. Shelly McNeil
  Professor of Medicine, Dalhousie University,
  Vice Chair of Immunize Canada

  Dr. Bonnie Henry
  Medical Director, Disease Prevention and Control,
  British Columbia Centre for Disease Control


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