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  Weekly Feature: (November 22, 2003)


The Flu: How to Protect Yourself
Pat's Weekly Feature


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 flu.

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 people.

Read more about flu and try the quizzes to test your knowledge.

Why 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 Vancouver Sun

Take the Flu Facts Quiz
(Adobe File: Requires Acrobat Reader)

Quiz: How much do you know about the flu?



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Accommodating Vancouver's Growing Population

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