Ottawa, October 23, 2013—The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) are encouraging parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated to protect against this year’s flu. It is strongly recommended that anyone over the age of six months gets their flu vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from getting the flu. This season—for the first time -- OPH will hold special clinics dedicated to children under the age of five.
OPH and CHEO recommend that all young children receive their flu vaccine annually as they are one of the most vulnerable groups to be affected by the flu and its possible complications.
“Each year during flu season, there are many children admitted to CHEO suffering from the flu or one of its complications such as pneumonia,” explains Dr. Lindy Samson, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases. “These are illnesses and complications that in all likelihood would have been prevented had those children been vaccinated. Children under the age of five and those with underlying medical problems are at highest risk of needing admission to hospital or developing complications if they get the flu so we strongly recommend that they be immunized.”
The flu virus spreads very easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing or touching contaminated objects. Even if you do not have flu-like symptoms, you can still spread the virus to others. Parents and caregivers are also strongly encouraged to get the vaccine to help protect loved ones and those in their care from getting sick this flu season.
“This season, OPH is offering better access to the flu vaccine through more convenient options for Ottawa residents by partnering with close to 140 pharmacies, more than 340 physicians’ offices and walk-in clinics, all area hospitals and many workplace clinics," said Dr. Isra Levy, Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health. "As pharmacists can only administer the flu vaccine to people over the age of five, OPH is also holding special clinics, by appointment only, for children under five years of age and their parents and siblings. These clinics, along with 22 OPH community clinics in the community, will help make protecting the health of young children as convenient and accessible as possible."
Parents and guardians of children under age five can visit www.ottawa.ca/flu to book an appointment at the OPH Immunization Clinic located on the main floor at 100 Constellation Drive. or call the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656.)
There are also helpful tips for parents to take the ‘ouch’ out of vaccination:
- Mothers can breastfeed babies during vaccination, or request sucrose for infants where available;
- Parents of babies and toddlers can sit face-to-face with their child on their lap in a hugging position;
- For toddlers and older children, deep breathing and distraction games can help. Bringing a favourite toy or blanket, telling a story or blowing on a pinwheel or can help distract attention from getting vaccinated.
- Watch this YouTube video by CHEO’s Be Sweet to Babies research team to see some of these techniques in action or visit the OPH website for tips to reduce pain during vaccination.
For more information about the flu vaccine and where you can get the vaccine, please visit www.ottawa.ca/flu or call Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656).
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