I really don’t like to be the bearer of bad news but cold and flu season is upon us. Before you know it, we will be dodging sneezes from across the room, wiping down door handles and kids toys like it’s our job, and checking our little ones (and husbands) for fevers. Influenza, or the flu as it is commonly known, is a scary thing to think about and unfortunately, it’s something we hear of much too often. Our children, new babies, family, friends, and grandparents can be affected. It doesn’t pick and choose and it can be caught by a simple cough, sneeze or by touching contaminated surfaces. If you get the flu you may experience fever, aches, and fatigue. It can also result in respiratory problems that could lead to a hospital visit—and nobody wants that. It can cause other health issues and missed school and work, but it doesn’t have to be like this. You can protect yourself and everyone around you just by getting your flu shot; something that is easily accessible from your doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacy and public health unit clinic. It is offered for free by the Government of Ontario for anyone six months old and up. That’s right! Your little ones at home can be protected too!
I remember going back to work after my first child and wanting to protect myself from everything that was out there. I didn’t want to bring anything home that could potentially harm my young baby. Getting the flu shot was the best thing I could do. Now, being a mom of two young children makes me want to protect myself and them even more. Health and happiness are my number one priorities and I would never want to think that all those chubby cheek kisses I give them would put them in harm’s way. Teaching my daughter to eat right to keep herself healthy, wash her hands, and cover her mouth when she sneezes and coughs is so important to me, and these habits should be instilled at a young age. Not to mention, with a new baby at home, that paranoia sets in all over again.
For any moms-to-be or brand new mommas out there, you can get the flu shot if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are pregnant and get the flu shot, it protects you and your baby for the first six months of life. How cool is that? Young children under five years of age, especially those under two, are also at a greater risk of serious illness. For me, one of the greatest things is to know that my three-year-old daughter is surrounded by caregivers all day that chose to keep themselves protected with the flu vaccine for the benefit of the children they are watching over. That makes you feel pretty good as a parent.
If you have never gotten the flu shot before, it’s never too late to start the tradition and get your family protected. Get the vaccine every year and get it as soon as possible. The flu can start as early as October and each year the virus may change and so does the vaccine, when necessary. Make sure to speak to your doctor if you have any serious allergies and to stay up to date on each year’s virus and how the flu vaccine can help you. Know that the flu vaccine is safe and goes through lots of testing. Most importantly, get informed or you will be misinformed. Ask questions, spread the word, and keep you, your children, and the people around you protected.
Please check out the Government of Ontario’s website for more information on the flu, the flu shot, and where you can get vaccinated.
*This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions are my own.