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The Public Health Agency of Canada reminds Canadians to protect themselves this flu season

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Flu vaccine best protection against the flu

OTTAWA, Nov. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Flu season is here again, and the Public Health Agency of Canada is reminding Canadians of the simple and important steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from getting sick.

"The flu is a serious illness, more so than many might realize," said federal Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq. "That's why it's important that all Canadians over the age of six months take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and those around them by getting the flu shot."

Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory illness that spreads rapidly from person to person. Every year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications, and even more become seriously ill and require hospitalization. Everyone is at risk of catching the flu. For most of us, catching the flu can mean a lot of discomfort. Usual symptoms include headache, chills, a cough, fever, aching muscles, runny nose, sneezing, and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea might also occur, especially in children.

For some, such as the elderly, children under six years of age, and people with weakened immune systems, the flu can cause severe illness, and even death.

"It's especially important for these high risk individuals and those at close contact with them such as health care workers, household contacts and caregivers, to protect themselves from the flu," said Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor. "The flu shot is safe and effective and offers the best protection against the flu virus for you and your family."

Even if you got the flu shot last year, you should get it again this year as your immunity may have decreased over time. As well, the flu virus changes slightly every year so the vaccine is reformulated to reflect the changes and to ensure protection against the most current viruses circulating in the community.

In addition to getting your flu shot, washing your hands frequently with warm, soapy water, coughing and sneezing in your arm, not your hand, and staying home when you're sick can also help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the flu.

To find out if you're at greater risk from the flu, or for information on flu immunization in your area, visit

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