Ontario is heading into a change in season. Flu season, that is.
Rumour has it, the area is facing a shortage in flu vaccines, but according to officials from the regional health unit, that’s just not true.
“There is not a shortage of flu vaccine,” said Mary Anne Holmes, manager of vaccine-preventable diseases for the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit. “As happens every season, the flu vaccine is made available in batches as it comes into the Ontario government pharmacy, the facility that distributes the vaccine.”
Holmes said the vaccine is not available all at once and the first couple weeks heading into flu season, priority is given to those most at risk.
Holmes said the flu vaccine becomes widely available to the general public in late October.
According to the health unit website, signs of influenza include fever, headache, chills, cough, fever, stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle aches, extreme weakness, and tiredness. A person infected with the influenza virus may exhibit some or all of the symptoms. In children, vomiting and diarrhea are also common.
The elderly, young children and people with chronic illness are at greater risk of more severe complications.
The health unit website states there were 18,000 deaths worldwide due to the H1N1 flu virus in 2009. In 1918 a Spanish Flu outbreak claimed more than 20 million lives worldwide, which is more than both world wars combined.
The flu vaccine is available for free to Ontario residents over six months old.
In Orillia, you can get the flu shot at your doctor’s office, from a nurse practitioner, at any local pharmacy and at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, located at The Common Roof at 169 Front St. S. For more information on influenza and the flu shot, click here.