Flu season is well on its way, with Alberta Health Services ramping up to launch its 2017 influenza vaccine Monday, Oct. 23.

The vaccine will be available at public health clinics, pharmacies, and some doctors offices.

Doctor Judy MacDonald, Calgary Medical Officer of Health says its hard to tell what this year's influenza season will bring.

"The one safe thing to say is we will see influenza, it always comes every year without fail and sometimes we get at least two different kinds of influenza coming through, an A and a B," she says. "In the Southern Hemisphere where winter is just ending and they're coming into spring they've seen more cases of influenza in Australia and more severity, but we don't always get what Australia has."

Flu season usually begins in October and can last until April or even May.

MacDonald says although a flu can feel much like a cold, the way to tell them apart is how quickly symptoms set in.

"Influenza is a respiratory illness, the typical symptoms are really a sudden onset of headache, fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches and pains. Those symptoms may sound similar to a cold, but with a cold you usually get more of a gradual appearance of the symptoms."

As always MacDonald stresses the vaccine is the most effective protection against the flu, however there are some other ways you can prevent getting sick this winter.

"The importance of washing your hands frequently, and keeping your hands away from your face cannot be over emphasized. Your hands are in contact with many things throughout the day and there can be viruses and other nasty things contaminating those surfaces. If you touch those things and touch your eyes, or your face you can become infected. Secondly it's important if you do become sick that you stay home from work or school, so you are not spreading the virus."

MacDonald adds adequate rest, eating well, and exercising will also do some good in keeping you healthy this flu season.

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