Rolling up sleeve for flu shot awareness

Flu season is upon us, and Chilliwack's mayor makes vaccination a priority, urges others to do the same

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz receives her annual flu shot from pharmacist Steve Owens at Shoppers Drug Mart on Yale Road Wednesday. Flu season is here

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz receives her annual flu shot from pharmacist Steve Owens at Shoppers Drug Mart on Yale Road Wednesday. Flu season is here

Mayor Sharon Gaetz happily rolled up her sleeve on Tuesday for her annual flu shot.

It’s a step toward health that she never misses, and was eager to spend some time helping to dispel some myths around influenza vaccines.

First of all, did it hurt?

Only a bit, she admitted. Flu shots are administered into muscle tissue in the upper arm. So while there’s a bit of a pinch, it’s a different sensation than having blood drawn. In short, even people who are terrified of needles may be less prone to fainting.

Gaetz is a big believer in getting an annual flu shot, since the days she and her husband Jim were both pastors. The more people you come into contact with, the more your chances are to catch the flu. As a politician, Gaetz meets people all through the day in the office, and on the road.

While hand washing plays an important role in decreasing your chances of catching colds and flus, the Ministry of Health says vaccines are the best way to protect yourself.

“It’s safe, effective, and free to many British Columbians, including children, seniors, pregnant women, those with chronic diseases, and more,” a government news release states.

There are other ways to keep bugs at bay, they add.

Wash your hands often, cough into a tissue or into your elbow, and avoid touching your own face.

If you do get sick, stay home and avoid social outings. Keep tissue boxes, trash bins and hand sanitizer close at hand. Talk to your doctor if you think you are coming down with the flu, to discuss antiviral drugs, and take all prescriptions as advised.

About 3,500 people die each year in Canada from the flu, and more than 12,000 are hospitalized.

Symptoms of influenza begin with a headache, chills and a cough. That stage is followed quickly by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches, fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and sore throat.

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.

Most people will have uncomplicated influenza and recover from within a week or ten days, but some are at greater risk of developing more severe complications such as pneumonia.

There are certain people who are more at risk for the flu, including children and adults with chronic medical conditions such as cancer, cardiac disorders, asthma, and morbid obesity, residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, people over 65 years old, healthy children under five years old, aboriginal people, and healthy pregnant women.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the flu vaccine is considered highly recommended healthcare workers, childcare providers, those who provide services in closed environments such as a ship crew, emergency responder, and people in direct contact during culling operations with poultry infected with avian influenza.

To learn more about receiving your flu shot, visit your local pharmacy or family doctor.