Although many people mistakenly use the terms “flu” and “cold” almost interchangeably, the flu is a much more severe health risk than the common cold.

Health Canada estimates between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications each year.

In the best case scenario, the typical flu will knock you off your feet for a week or two with a high fever, painful dry cough, or aches and chills. The discomfort alone, combined with time lost from work, school, or family responsibilities, makes the flu something to be taken very seriously.

“Those who worry the vaccine can make  you sick, it is made from an inactivated virus, so it simply cannot give you the flu.”

But for young children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses, like diabetes or heart disease, influenza can escalate into even more severe health complications — such as pneumonia — and result in hospitalizations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 100 children died in the United States last year as a result of the flu and complications. 90 per cent of those children were not vaccinated.

Annual vaccination is the single best way to prevent the flu and its consequences. Safe and effective vaccines have been used for over 60 years, and with neighbourhood pharmacies across Canada now providing flu shots, it is more convenient than ever to be immunized.

For those who worry the flu shot can make you sick, it is made from an inactivated virus, so it simply cannot give you the flu. For those afraid of needles, a nasal spray vaccine has got you covered.
And even if you consider yourself healthy and not at risk of getting sick, you can still be a transmitter of the virus. Influenza spreads easily, and can sweep through schools, nursing homes, businesses and communities. It takes as little as breathing in the same air where an infected person just coughed to become infected.

The flu is a serious illness and a real public health challenge. Protect yourself, help protect others, and get your flu shot this season.