November usually brings the beginning of the flu season. In
Canada, the flu affects millions of people between November
and April. Approximately, 10 to 25% of Canadians get the flu
each year. According to Dr. John Blatherwick, the chief
medical health officer for the Vancouver Coastal Health
Authority, this year is going to be particularly bad for the
The flu is caused by the influenza virus,
which is very contagious. This virus is easily spread through
the air by coughing or sneezing or by touching surfaces, where
the virus can live for up to 48 hours.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle
aches, headaches, tiredness, stuffy nose, sore throat, and a
cough. The common cold is not the same as the flu. The flu can
make people sick for about 2 weeks and can even take up to 8
weeks before they feel back to normal. Other complications
such as pneumonia or bronchitis can follow the flu since
people have more difficulty fighting off these infections.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is to
get the flu shot. This vaccination is considered 70 to 90%
effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults. Because
different flu strains occur each year, people need to get a
flu shot annually.
November is a good month to get the
vaccination to be protected until April. The flu shot cannot
give people the flu since it does not contain the live
influenza virus. Other ways to prevent the flu include washing
your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with infected
Read more about flu and try the quizzes to
test your knowledge.
Should I get the flu shot?
Flu Immunization: Myths & Facts
Getting Serious about the Flu: What You Can Do
to Prevent It
Get the Vaccine, Not the Flu
Includes “Frequently asked Questions” and “How to Tell the
Difference between the Flu and a Cold”
Flu Shots Can Save Lives—an article from The
Take the Flu Facts Quiz
(Adobe File: Requires Acrobat Reader)
Quiz: How much do you know about the flu?