Nova Scotians are encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as possible. “Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself and loved ones from the flu,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “We encourage everyone to plan ahead and get the flu vaccine before the Christmas holidays.” Seasonal flu vaccine is available from most pharmacies, family doctors, family practice nurses, nurse practitioners, many workplaces and through clinics offered by some public health offices. “Last year, 40 per cent of Nova Scotians got a flu shot, and we hope to see more this year,” said Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health. “Our publicly funded immunization program is an important part of the government’s commitment to promote health and prevent illness.” The province is providing the quadrivalent vaccine recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. The vaccine contains two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains. High-risk groups strongly encouraged to get a flu shot are: seniors children six months to five years of age Aboriginal people pregnant women people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes people who live with, or care for, people in high-risk groups Proper hygiene such as hand washing and covering noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing is also important to prevent the spread of influenza and many other infections. People with flu symptoms should stay home and minimize close contact with others. Flu symptoms often include a sudden high fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny, stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat. It can lead to more severe illness such as pneumonia or even death. For more information on the flu, visit novascotia.ca/flu .