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Expect a mild flu season

The Hastings and Prince Edward Counties health unit will begin offering free flu vaccine this month. Click here to see the complete schedule of health unit clinics.

The free community clinics are part of the provincial Universal Influenza Immunization Program, now in its 11th year. Flu vaccinations will also be available through family doctors, nurse practitioners, community health centres and some workplaces. Anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Ontario is eligible for a free flu shot.

“Influenza activity has been low around the world over the last eight months,” says Dr. Richard Schabas, medical officer of health for Hastings and Prince Edward counties. “That means we are likely to see a mild flu season in Canada this winter.

“Some people are more susceptible than others to serious illness from the flu,” continues Schabas. “The high risk groups have been expanded to include people who are morbidly obese, Aboriginal people, and children between two and five years of age.”  For a complete list of high risk groups see the Health Unit’s website at www.yourhealthunit.ca

This year’s vaccine provides protection against the A/California/7/2009 (H1N1-like) virus, the A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2-like) virus and the
B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

“If people have questions about whether or not the vaccine will benefit them during the flu season this year,” says Schabas, “they should consult their own health care professional.”

You may also call the Flu Line at 613-966-5513 ext. 655. Long distance callers in North Hastings can call toll free to 1-800-267-2803.  TTY call 613-966-3036 from Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Flu Season 2010-11 – Questions and Answers
Here is the information you need to know about flu vaccinations offered by the Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit for this flu season.

Q. Will the health unit offer flu vaccination clinics this flu season?
A. Yes. A series of community flu clinics will be offered starting in mid-October.

Q. Who is eligible to receive a free flu vaccination from the health unit?
A. Anyone over six months of age who lives, works, or attends school in Ontario is eligible to attend a free flu vaccination clinic.

Q. When and where will the health unit flu vaccination clinics be held?
A. Click here to see the complete schedule of health unit clinics. To hear the clinic schedule, call 613-966-5513 ext. 655. TTY: 613-966-3036 (8:30-4:30 Monday-Friday.)

Q. Is there a separate H1N1 vaccination like last flu season?
A. No. Each year the flu vaccine is reformulated to protect against three strains of influenza. This season’s contains H1N1 vaccine (a type of influenza A) plus a second influenza A and an influenza B vaccine.

Q. Who should get the flu shot?
A. Ontario looks to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) for recommendations. NACI recommends the annual flu immunization for everyone six months of age and older. The influenza vaccine is especially recommended for “high priority groups”.

Q. Who are the “high priority groups”?
A. High priority groups are people at high risk for complications of flu and those who may spread the flu to high-risk people.

Q. Who is included in the “high priority groups”?
A. High priority groups identified by the NACI are adults (including pregnant women) and children with the following chronic health conditions:
* Cardiac or pulmonary disorders (including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, cystic fibrosis and asthma)
* Diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases
* Cancer, immunodeficiency, immunosuppression (due to underlying disease and/or therapy)
* Renal disease
* Anaemia or hemoglobinopathy
* Conditions that compromise the management of respiratory secretions and are associated with an increased risk of aspiration
* Children and adolescents with conditions treated for long periods of time with acetylsalicylic acid
* People of any age who are residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.
* People 65 years of age or over.
* Healthy children aged six to 23 months.
* Healthy pregnant women, including those with selected high risk conditions.
* People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk:
* Health care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who, through their activities, are capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of influenza complications.
* Household contacts (adults and children) of individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications (whether or not the individual at high risk has been immunized):
* Household contacts of individuals at high risk, as listed in the section above;
* Household contacts of infants less than six months of age who are at high risk of complications from influenza but for whom influenza vaccine is not authorized; and
* Members of a household expecting a newborn during the influenza season.
* Those providing regular child care to children less than 24 months of age, whether in or out of the home.
* Those who provide services within closed or relatively closed settings to persons at high risk (e. g. crew on a ship).
Others
* People who provide essential community services.
* People in direct contact during culling operations with poultry infected with avian influenza.

Special consideration in 2010-2011
* Persons who are morbidly obese (BMI ≥ 40).
* Aboriginal peoples.
* Healthy children two to four years of age.
* Note: Healthy persons aged five to 64 years without contraindication are also encouraged to receive influenza vaccine even if they are not in one of the priority groups.

Q. I want more information on the flu shot. Whom should I ask?
A. For questions on the benefits of the flu shot to you, personally, you should consult your own health care professional.

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