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Common myths about the flu shot: debunked

Flu season coming early and hitting hard


Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 1:35 PM - You might want to hurry up getting that flu shot. Experts predict the upcoming season is going to be a rough one.

Already parts of the country are showing signs of flu activity. Early reports have determined that the predominant strain circulating this year is Influenza A (H3N2) followed by co-circulation of influenza B.

The H3N2 strain tends to affect the elderly population more severely and a season with predominant H3N2 activity typically leads to more hospitalization and deaths.

Officials do warn that there is still time for things to change as influenza is highly unpredictable—one of the reasons flu shots don't always work for everyone.

Another difficulty with the flu vaccine is the time required for its mass production. Vaccine strains are chosen in advance, sometimes as early as February. While experts do their best to predict the pattern of the viral strains, often the strains contained in the vaccines end up having an almost insignificant effect on the flu season.

But that doesn't mean you should skip the flu shot. It does offer some degree of cross protection against viruses that aren't identical. Additionally, flu shots contain several strains of the flu, some of which you might encounter this season.

Alberta's flu shot program begins on October 20. Nova Scotia follows shortly after on Oct 21 before Ontario's program begins on Oct. 23. These programs involve the general public but in many cases health professionals have already begun vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities.


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Make sure to get the vaccine as soon as possible. Despite the federal government receiving additional supplies there are still 800,000 fewer doses than originally ordered. While officials don't expect supply to be a problem, getting an early shot can still be extremely helpful. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and protect against infection.

And if it's the little ones you're struggling with, don't worry. Nasal spray flu vaccine is a non-invasive procedure and has been shown to have similar or better results than those that received a shot. Unfortunately the nasal spray is not usually offered at free clinics. Those interested in an alternative method might have to get a prescription and buy it (usually between $20 to $30).

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