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Fending Off the Flu

Topic: Diagnosis & Treatment

For healthy people, a bout of the Flu usually means a week of body aches, fever, cough and a general feeling of “ugh”. But for those with a compromised immune system, the risk for serious complications is higher, making it that much more important to avoid this common seasonal ailment.

If you have cancer, or you are in contact with someone who has cancer (or whose immune system is compromised for other reasons), you should take extra care to protect yourself from catching the virus that causes the Flu. Thankfully, there are easy ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. Mark Dragich, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Thornhill, Ontario shares some good health habits that will help prevent the spread of the Flu:

In addition to these tips, the yearly Flu shot is another important prevention tool. “The Flu shot works with the body’s immune system to develop antibodies to help fight off, and hopefully prevent infection from influenza viruses—the seasonal ‘Flu’,” explains Dragich.

While Health Canada recommends the Flu shot for everyone over six months, it is especially important for those who are at higher risk of complications from the Flu. Caregivers are encouraged to get the shot as are those with cancer, though Dragich notes that the shot is not indicated for anyone who is allergic to any component of the Flu shot or who have had a previous anaphylactic reaction to the shot.

The Flu shot is available at many pharmacies, doctors’ offices, public health clinics and through some employers starting around October each year. Dragich says the best time to get the shot is between October and December, though the shot is still effective if it’s received later in the season.

Some people worry that the Flu shot will make them sick. Dragich says this is not the case. “The Flu shot is usually well tolerated,” he says. “The most common adverse effects are pain and swelling at the injection site, which may last a couple of days. Some people may experience fever, tiredness and muscle soreness. Your pharmacist may be able to help with these symptoms.” Dragich also stresses that the Flu shot will not give you the Flu. “People who report symptoms of the Flu after vaccination have most likely contracted the flu before the two-week time period in which the vaccine becomes effective,” he says.

Dragich also reminds us that pharmacists care for patients with cancer in many meaningful ways including information about medications, how to take new medications within existing regimens and how to manage adverse effects and daily events. “Pharmacists are often the gateway to many resources that help with all stages of cancer,” he says. “Please ask us — we are there to care for you!” 

In addition to expert advice at more than 1,200 locations nationwide, Shoppers Drug Mart extends its commitment to the health of Canadians through Shoppers LOVE.YOU.. A proud champion of Putting Women’s Health First, Shoppers Drug Mart's commitment has never been stronger. Shoppers LOVE. YOU. shares the expertise of partners at leading women’s health organizations, it offers new health resources and it connects you with others in support of local Women’s Health initiatives across Canada  – all in an effort to help you stay focused on being your best.

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