In short, influenza is far more of a concern to the Canadian population than the coronavirus. Across Canada, from August 2019 to January 18, 2020, there have been 12,165 cases of Influenza A and 8,423 cases of Influenza B isolated https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/surveillance/respiratory-virus-detections-canada/2020-2021/week-3-ending-january-18-2020/pub1-eng.pdf.
Why is influenza a concern?
Influenza is a virus that has the potential to cause significant illness, hospitalization and even death. Children under the age of 5 years old are at highest risk of severe illness.
When is flu season?
Cases of the flu start to rise as early as October to as late as May and peak between December to February.
How can we protect our children?
I will only be discussing the flu shot and not the nasal spray. The flu shot is not effective in babies under 6 months of age, but here are some things you can do:
- Pregnant women get your flu shot: immunity can be passed to your baby through the placenta
- Breastfeeding women: immunity can be transferred through breastmilk
- When your baby turns 6 months old, get them their flu shot. If a child is younger than 9 years of age when they get their first flu shot, they will need to get a second one a month later. After this, it should be once a year.
- The flu shot should be given once every year, as the flu virus changes, and there are highly educated people working very hard to make sure the vaccine also changes to keep up!
You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine
The flu shot is not live and therefore you cannot get the flu from it.
Other general tips:
- Handwashing is very important. The virus can stay alive on surfaces for hours. If you are sick, make sure you wash your hands to prevent spread also.
- Avoid sick contacts.
- If you are sick, try to minimize spreading the infection, i.e., cover your mouth when you cough, don’t go to school/work