KFL&A Public Health is recommending that all residents get immunized against influenza now, saying that the sooner a person is immunized, the sooner he or she and vulnerable people around them are protected from this contagious and potentially dangerous illness.
According to the agency, seasonal influenza disease usually peaks in January or February most years. Since it takes approximately two weeks after vaccination to develop antibodies that protect against influenza, it is optimum to get vaccinated well in advance of the virus beginning to circulate in the community.
“Waiting until influenza is in our community is too late to be immunized,” said Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, Dr. Ian Gemmill. “The only way to ensure that a person is protected is to get the vaccine and to get it well before December.”
The influenza vaccine cannot give people influenza. Most vaccine recipients have no reaction at all, and almost all of those who do have only minor side effects, such as a sore arm or mild fever.
“Influenza immunization is the safest, longest-lasting and best defense for keeping people healthy during the influenza season,” said Dr. Gemmill. “Everyone who is six months of age and older is eligible for annual influenza immunization, unless there is a medical reason not to do so. It is especially important that those at high risk for influenza-related complications or those who live or work with people who are at high risk for complications, hospitalizations or death, receive influenza vaccine.”
Dr Gemill added that people who are immunized should still take measures to prevent the spread of other germs that circulate in the winter too. He recommends washing hands regularly, coughing and sneezing into your arm instead of into your hands, and staying home when sick to help protect everyone in the community.
There are a number of ways to get influenza immunization in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington area.
It is available from family doctors, a local pharmacist or at a KFL&A Public Health clinic.
The annual influenza immunization program begins this year with two Kingston walk-in clinics at École Sir John A. Macdonald Public School on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and at Queen’s University on Friday November 13, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Clinics by appointment will take place on Fridays at KFL&A Public Health’s main office located at 221 Portsmouth Avenue.
A complete schedule of influenza immunization clinic dates and locations can be found on KFL&A Public Health’s website.
To book an appointment for influenza immunization, visit kflapublichealth.ca/appointments or call 613-549-1232 or 1-800-267-7875.