Brampton - As thousands of students head back to school, a different flu season is on its way. Health experts are preparing for two types of viruses to affect our communities this year – the seasonal flu virus and the pandemic H1N1 flu virus.
"We see the flu every year, but with both the H1N1 and seasonal flu virus circulating, more people could be sick at the same time," says Dr. Kathleen Dooling, Associate Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel. "We want parents and teachers to watch for children experiencing flu-like symptoms."
Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, and muscle aches. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be present in children. If children have a sudden onset of these symptoms, they should be kept home from school. Peel Public Health, along with provincial and federal health authorities, does not recommend closing schools to control spread of the H1N1 virus. Since the virus is in the community, children may still be exposed to it in other public places.
To avoid the flu, health officials are asking residents to:
Wash their hands often with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer– especially after sneezing or coughing and after touching surfaces others may have touched;
Cough and sneeze into an upper sleeve or tissue;
Clean surfaces at home or work regularly;
Stay at home if experiencing flu-like symptoms, and
Get the seasonal and H1N1 flu shot
The seasonal flu shot will not protect against the pandemic H1N1 flu virus. Therefore, this year there will be two flu vaccines available - the seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 flu vaccine. Beginning in October, you can get the seasonal flu vaccine through your family doctor, a workplace or community-based health service or one of Peel's public health clinics. The clinic schedule will be posted in early October at www.peelregion.ca/flu.
The H1N1 vaccine will be available late this fall or early winter for everyone who needs and wants it. Peel Public Health will let residents know where and how to get the H1N1 flu shot when details are known. Both shots are free for Ontario residents.
For more information, speak to your health care provider or visit http://www.peelregion.ca/ and http://www.health.gov.on.ca/.