11/04/2013 01:24 EST | Updated 11/04/2013 01:44 EST

Flu Shot: 21 Facts About The Flu


The cold and flu season is bearing down quickly, and that means the annual flu shot is now available across Canada. So why is it that less than a third of Canadians get a flu shot each year?

Almost all of us have had the flu at least once, so it's often thought of as a non-serious illness, but it's very different from a simple head cold.

"The top reason that we come across is that people think the flu is not a big deal," said Dr. Virginia Roth, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at the Ottawa Hospital.

But every year about 10 to 20 per cent of Canadians get influenza, 20,000 people are hospitalized because of the flu, and 4,000 die, according to Toronto Public Health.

Even those who avoid the most serious complications can miss work or school, which hits the economy. The Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion estimates that influenza cost's the country's economy about half a billion dollars each year. And the symptoms that come along with the flu including fever, muscle aches, coughing, and fatigue are just plain miserable to deal with.

LOOK — 21 things you need to know about the flu

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