2011-12 Seasonal Influenza: What You Need to Know – from Northern Health

2011-12 Seasonal Influenza: What You Need to Know


1. Who is eligible for the publicly-funded vaccine?

A.   People at high risk

  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
  • People 65 years of age and over
  • Adults (including pregnant women) and children with chronic cardiac or pulmonary disorders; diabetes and other metabolic diseases; cancer; immunodeficiency; immunosuppression; chronic kidney disease; chronic liver disease, including hepatitis C; anemia; hemoglobinopathy; conditions that compromise the handling of respiratory secretions and are associated with an increased risk of aspiration, e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injury, seizure disorder and neuromuscular disorders
  • Children and adolescents (age 6 months to 18 years) with conditions treated for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
  • Adults who are morbidly obese (BMI ? 40)
  • Aboriginal peoples (on and off reserve) for the 2010-2011 influenza season
  • Healthy children age 6 to 23 months
  • Pregnant women who will be in their 3rd trimester during the influenza season –
  • Inmates of provincial correctional institutions
  • People working with live poultry



B.   People capable of transmitting influenza

to those at high risk


  • Healthcare workers and other personnel who have significant contact with those in the high-risk group listed previously. This group includes independent health care practitioners and their staff in community settings


  • Household contacts (including children) of people at high risk
  • Those who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons (e.g., crew on ships)
  • Household contacts of children age 0-23 months
  • Those providing regular child care to children age 0-23 months whether in or out of the home


C.   People who provide essential community services


  • First responders
  • Corrections officers






        2. Handwashing

Topic Overview

Handwashing is a simple and effective way to help prevent diseases, such as colds, flu, and food poisoning.

When to wash your hands

Washing hands:

  • Often, especially during cold and flu  season, can reduce your risk of catching or spreading a cold or the flu.
  • Before and after preparing or serving food reduces your risk of catching or spreading bacteria that cause food poisoning. Be especially careful to wash before and after preparing poultry, raw eggs, meat, or seafood.
  • After going to the bathroom or changing diapers reduces your risk of catching or spreading infectious diseases such as salmonella or hepatitis A.

Wash your hands after:

  • Touching parts of your body that are not clean.
  • Using the bathroom.
  • Coughing, sneezing, or using a handkerchief or disposable tissue.
  • Eating, drinking, or using tobacco (for example, smoking).
  • Handling soiled kitchen utensils or equipment.
  • Handling other soiled or contaminated utensils or equipment.
  • Handling or preparing foods, especially after touching raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or eggs.
  • Changing diapers, handling garbage, using the phone, shaking hands, or playing with pets.

Proper handwashing

Experts recommend the following steps for handwashing:

1.    Wash your hands with running water and soap.

2.    Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.

3.    Pay special attention to your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.

4.    Leave the water running while you dry your hands on a paper towel.

5.    Use the paper towel as a barrier between the faucet and your clean hands when you turn off the water.

If soap and water are not available, use gel hand sanitizers or alcohol-based hand wipes containing 60% to 90% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol. Most supermarkets and drugstores carry these products. Carry one or both with you when you travel, and keep them in your car or purse.

If using the gel sanitizer, rub your hands until the gel is dry. You don’t need to use water. The alcohol in the gel kills the germs on your hands.

Related Information



Healthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer

E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine

Primary Medical Reviewer

Brian D. O’Brien, MD – Internal Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer

Christine Hahn, MD – Epidemiology

Last Revised

September 17, 2010







Is it influenza or a cold?

The following table can help you determine whether you have influenza or a cold.



Influenza (the flu)

Fever Rare Usual, sudden onset 39º-40º, lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Usual, can be severe
Aches and Pains Sometimes mild Usual, often severe
Fatigue and weakness Sometimes mild Usual, may last 2-3 weeks or more
Extreme fatigue Unusual Usual, early onset, can be severe
Runny, stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, coughing Sometimes mild to moderate Usual, can be severe
Complications Can lead to sinus congestion or earache Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and more complications in persons with chronic diseases
Prevention Frequent hand-washing Yearly influenza vaccine and frequent hand washing
Treatment No specific treatment is available; symptom relief only Anti-viral drugs by prescription, which can reduce symptoms



For more information, call your doctor or the local health unit.

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