Health & Wellness

Fending Off the Flu

 Flu is on the rise. Here’s how you can protect yourself

Photo: iStock/AaronAmat.

While 724 cases of influenza were reported across Canada in the first week of December, 9,119 were reported between December 15 and January 4, 2020, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. In the first week of December, one person died of the flu while 28 were admitted to ICUs; from December 15 to January 4, 10 people as a result of the flu and 60 were admitted to ICUs. Quebec and the southwest of British Columbia saw the greatest number of cases.

While Influenza A has been more common among those seeking treatment, the agency also noted that rates of Influenza B have been steadily increasing “at higher levels than usual.”

Since rates of the virus tend to increase in late autumn, the best way to fend off the flu is to get a flu shot in the fall, but it’s still worth it to get a shot even later, during the winter.

The current vaccine prevents against Influenza A (H1N1) and Influenza A (H3N2), as well as Influenza B. It takes about two weeks for the body to develop the antibodies that protect against the virus.

Anyone with compromised health is at an increased risk for contracting the flu. That includes people with health conditions such as:

  • cancer and other immune compromising conditions
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • lung disease
  • anemia
  • obesity
  • kidney disease
  • neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions
  • children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid (Asperin)

As well as:

  • people 65 years or older
  • people livinge in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • children under five years of age
  • pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant
  • and Indigenous peoples

Frequent handwashing, not touching your face, and coughing and sneezing into the bend of your arm, rather than your hand, can help prevent the spread of the virus.