Challenge accepted. Challenge complete.
Not one to back down from a challenge, Nipissing MPP and Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli got his flu shot in his home riding on Saturday.
“Our health minister Christine Elliott challenged all cabinet ministers and MPP’s to get a flu shot, and here I am today in North Bay getting my flu shot,” said Fedeli.
“It is flu season. The province has invested $90 million in beds for the flu surge, $2 million of which came here to the city of North Bay. I interact with seniors and kids on a daily basis in my role, and it is particularly important for people who are interacting with the public to get out and get a flu shot, not only for themselves but for the others they could be infecting.”
To help spread the word about the importance of getting a flu shot, especially early on, Fedeli is asking everyone in his riding to join the challenge by getting the flu shot, and posting a picture of it on social media using the hashtag #FightTheFlu.
The MPP for Nipissing got his flu shot from Curtis Latimer, pharmacist-owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart on Cassells Street.
Coincidentally, Fedeli was the first person Latimer had ever given a flu shot to, and that was on October 25th, 2012.
The pharmacy gives between 1,000 and 1,200 flu shots during the flu season.
Latimer says one of the biggest misconceptions is that the flu shot will actually give you the flu.
“That’s not the case. If you have a very strong immune response to the vaccine, you may feel a little bit of achiness and mild fever, or chills for a few days, which is actually a good indication that the vaccine is doing what it is supposed to,” explained Latimer.
“But true influenza is usually five to seven days in bed, pain head to toe, sore throat, feeling miserable, and then it is another week of recovery. So true influenza is really debilitating. The worst of the symptoms of the flu shot is usually mild, transient and lasts a day or two. The vast majority of people actually just get a sore arm.”
The pharmacist says a person who has not received a flu shot is still eligible to get one, even after having had a bout of the flu.
“Once they’re feeling better, if they give it another week they can get the flu shot even if they’ve had the flu. The flu shots that we’re getting this year actually have vaccination against four different strains of influenza, two of influenza A and two of influenza B. So even if you got influenza so far this year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get it again, which would be pretty miserable. So even if you’ve had it, once you feel better, give yourself another week and come and see us because we’ll be able to give you a vaccination.”
It takes about two weeks for a vaccination to reach its full effect.
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is encouraging people to “Protect Yourself, Protect Others-Get the Flu Shot.”
It warns that influenza is highly contagious, and a common respiratory illness caused by a virus.
On its website, the health unit states that “influenza (flu) can make a healthy adult sick for weeks, but in more vulnerable populations like older adults and children, it can cause more serious complications.”
Andrea McLellan, manager of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases program is quoted as saying “The flu shot is proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations, and deaths related to the flu. In addition to receiving the flu shot, you can lessen your chances of getting the flu by washing your hands often, coughing and sneezing into your sleeve, staying home when sick, and avoiding touching your face.”
Influenza is commonly spread through droplets or direct contact.
In its lists of facts, the health unit points out that,
“When you sneeze, cough, talk or sing, you spray droplets up to one meter (about three feet.) The flu virus is also spread by touching a contaminated surface or kissing someone. The virus can survive on unwashed hands for five minutes, or on tissues or clothing for 8-10 hours and on hard surfaces, such as tables or telephones, for two days.”
Without knowing it, the average adult can spread the virus 24 hours before having any symptoms, and for 3-5 days after symptoms occur.
When it comes to children, and even some adults, they can be contagious for a week or more before symptoms occur.
During last year’s flu season there were just over 8,900 flu-related hospitalizations across the Ontario, and 619 deaths.
The flu shot is free of charge and is available at the health unit, from doctors or nurse practitioners, and at most pharmacies.