Health department encourages residents to protect themselves this flu season

The health department is reminding residents to get their flu shot to protect against this year’s strains of the virus.

According to the latest data, there have been 41 cases of the flu virus reported since September 2018. Of those cases, the strain of Flu A has been predominant this season with a total of 37 cases, followed by three cases of Flu B and one case of both Flu A and B. Based on previous years, there are typically two waves of the virus, with Flu A peaking in January and February, and Flu B peaking in March and April.

“Even though this season’s numbers are similar to last season, it’s still important that we to do our part to stop the spread of the flu as every season is unpredictable,” said Brenda Kwan, health protection manager. “Since the season has just started, it’s not too late to get your seasonal flu shot.”

This year’s flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older and protects against four strains of the virus. The flu vaccine is offered through local health care providers, such as family doctors, nurse practitioners and walk-in clinics. Pharmacies are also able to offer the vaccine to residents over the age of five.

Residents and families with children who are under the age of five, who have no OHIP coverage or no access to a health care provider, are encouraged to call Durham Health connection line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.

“When you get the flu shot, you’re not only protecting yourself, you’re also protecting your loved ones and vulnerable populations,” said Kwan. “Everyone can help prevent the spread of infections by getting their flu shot and practicing proper infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures.”

Other IPAC measures you can practice include: staying home if you have symptoms that may indicate an infection such as fever, coughing, sneezing, vomiting or diarrhea; washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based sanitizer; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or using your elbow/sleeve when you cough or sneeze; avoiding touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth; and avoiding sharing personal items such as eating utensils, drink containers, lip products or toothbrushes.

For more information about the flu, including vaccine information and weekly updates of the Durham Region influenza bulletin, visit durham.ca/flu.

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