October 12, 2017 4:00 pm

Flu shot now available across Nova Scotia

FILE - A nurse administers a flu vaccine shot.

(AP File Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Influenza vaccines are now available across Nova Scotia and health officials are encouraging people to get their shots early.

Flu shots can be administered by most pharmacists, family doctors, family practice nurses and nurse practitioners.

READ: Here’s why Canada may be in for a miserable 2017-18 flu season

The vaccine is free for all Nova Scotians.

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“Influenza can have serious complications for many people, including the elderly, children under five years of age and those with chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health in a news release.

“Vaccination is a simple, safe and effective way to prevent getting and spreading the virus.”

READ: 6 vaccination myths debunked

Curtis Chafe, a pharmacist with Shoppers Drug Mart in Halifax, says flu season runs from November until March – however it’s good to get vaccinated early.

“The sooner they get the vaccine, the sooner they’re going to be protected,” said Chafe.

“As soon as you get that shot, you’re not automatically protected right away. (It) still takes your body a little bit of time to build up immunity and the immune response so usually, about a week to 10 days before you’re fully protected.”

Influenza symptoms include high fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue, a runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat.

Health officials say it can also lead to more severe illness such as pneumonia or even death.

READ: Signs you’re too sick with the flu and should stay home

“Global trends show that the H3N2 virus is likely to be part of Nova Scotia’s flu season, a strain of influenza that can be particularly severe in the elderly,” said Strang.

“It’s important to get your vaccine especially if you are at higher risk for complications.”

Pregnant women, children under five, seniors and those with underlying health problems are always encouraged to get the flu shot.

However, Chafe says everyone benefits from getting immunized.

“When we’re young and invincible, getting the flu doesn’t seem like it’s such a bad thing, you know maybe a week off work or something like that. But, it definitely does cause a lot of problems for a lot of people,” he said.

“They say anywhere from three to seven million people could get the flu in Canada. Of those, over 12,000 hospitalizations and they look at about 3,500 deaths so it’s definitely serious.”

He adds that healthy young adults should get the flu as well because they could still be carriers and transmit the disease to vulnerable people.

READ MORE: 7 steps to surviving the cold and flu season without getting sick

Last year,  pharmacists in Nova Scotia administered about 96,000 influenza vaccines.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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