People are getting ready to put out the pumpkins. Halloween is around the comers with all its ghosts and goblins. It’s a fun and scary time but a real scare is on the way: flu and pneumonia. It can hit anyone in the winter. While flu isn’t seen as a big problem for most adults. You just get sick and little weak but you are young and your immune system is strong. It’s usually a high fever, headaches, chills and a dry cough. It can take you several days to get over it, sometimes even weeks if you push yourself. It’s also one of the most contagious viruses around. It can spread through a cough in the air or by a handshake let alone a kiss. Schools spread the disease quickly and it hits the community. After all who isn’t going to greet a child?

It can be dangerous to others though. Flu can play havoc with our Elders since their immune system is weaker.

It can also hurt people who have health problems and lead to pneumonia. People with diabetes and kidney problems can see the flu develop into something more severe.

There is help out there though. A flu vaccine has been developed. One shot and you’re ok for the winter. You may catch the edge of a flu epidemic but it won’t be as bad as it could be. This is especially important for Elders and the flu vaccine is available to all Elders in the Cree communities. If you are really worried the whole family who lives with an Elder can get vaccinated so the virus has less chance of being transmitted to them.

The local clinics have flu vaccine for any person over 60 years old, anybody who has diabetes, kidney problems, heart or lung diseases, cancer or anemia, people living with them and health services workers (including homecare).

Contact your local clinic to see when you can go for your shot. It’s a yearly thing, so if you had the shot last year you need another one this year. Pneumonia infection risks increase as you get older. Did you know that Pneumococcal infections are a leading cause of death throughout the world?

It causes 480,000-800,000 hospitalizations each year in North America. In Quebec 5,000 people were hospitalized because of it in 1996 alone.

With the Pneumovax vaccine, you need only one shot (usually) in your lifetime because it provides long-lasting protection. The program was started last year and Cree clinics managed to vaccinate most people but if you have missed it, inform the local Cree clinic. Most of the people mentioned above for the flu vaccine are eligible for the Pneumovax vaccine.

The risks are there and while it’s your life, a lot of us would like to see you stick around a little longer.

Vaccinations are one »ay we can continue to enjoy your company.