Flu season under control

By Geneviève April

Despite the prospect of coughs, sneezes, fever and muscle aches lurking over those of us who didn’t get vaccinated, this flu season is nothing to worry about, according to Laval health officials.

“We hear about it a lot in the media, but there is nothing unusual or that we have not foreseen with this flu season. If we compare to previous years, there is nothing particular or alarming,” said Laval public health authority spokeswoman Stéphanie Daigneault.

The fact that one of this year strands of flu is H1N1 captured the public’s imagination and started a wave of worry.

“That’s unfounded. The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic is still fresh in people’s memory, but we are nowhere near a similar situation. Flu vaccine now includes the H1N1 strands, so everyone who was vaccinated is protected,” specified Daigneault.

The H1N1 flu is distinctive for being harder on young children than on the elderly as is usually the case with other strains.

“We offer vaccination to target groups that are more at-risk: babies 6-23 months, people diagnosed with chronic illness, people over 60, healthcare workers, healthy pregnant women, and people will be in contact with babies under six months or people who would be vulnerable to complications,” explained Daigneault.
Daigneault added that the demand for vaccination has boomed with the news outlets reporting alarmist information about the flu season situation.

“We tailor the availability of the vaccination to the demand; slots are available for vaccination appointments every day.”

Precautions to prevent infection include washing hands regularly with soap and water or an antiseptic rinse. People who have contracted the flu are advised to cough in their elbow, refrain from shaking hands and stay at home as much as possible.

Laval health officials are asking the population to refrain from visiting hospital emergency rooms if they have flu symptoms, in order to prevent the disease from spreading. To help people determine whether or not to visit the hospital, the Info-Santé 811 service is available, where a nurse will assess the symptoms and provide useful feedback on how to alleviate the discomfort caused by the flu, or direct the caller to an alternate medical center.
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