Press Releases

Two in Five Canadians Not Planning Ahead for this Year's Cold and Flu Season

Oct 20, 2010

Up to a quarter of Canadians develop seasonal flu each year

TORONTO, Oct. 20 /CNW/ - As cold and flu season approaches, Canadians - especially the elderly, children and others most susceptible to illness - are recommended to take precautions to keep healthy.  But, according to a new survey, while many Canadians are concerned about catching the cold or seasonal flu this year, 40 per cent are not making an effort to plan ahead.1  However, according to Health Canada statistics, they should be, as anywhere from 3.4 to 8.5 million Canadians come down with the seasonal flu each year, let alone the common cold.2

"Preparation is key to weathering the cold and flu season in Canada," says Akeel Jaffer, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist, Toronto, Ontario. "Cold and especially seasonal flu can be very serious, and in some cases, quite debilitating. So, as the season unfolds, it's important that families do what they can to be prepared and prevent illness."

Just because the H1N1 influenza pandemic is not a major health concern this year, Canadians should not let their guard down as it is estimated that up to a quarter of Canadians develop the seasonal flu each year.2  The seasonal flu shot now also protects against the H1N1 strain. Shoppers Drug Mart has the following advice to help Canadians get prepared for this coming cold and flu season:

  • Know the difference between cold and seasonal flu. Many people are confused by the difference, but to be clear, a cold tends to develop gradually, usually over the course of a day or two.  It can lead to tiredness, sneezing and a runny nose, but it usually does not cause fever.  A cold can last anywhere from a few days to up to two weeks.  Flu, on the other hand, can come out of nowhere and can hit hard.  Seasonal flu can cause weakness, tiredness and fever as high as 40°C.  Aches and pains in muscles and joints, chills, a severe headache and sore throat are also common flu symptoms.  A fever due to the seasonal flu may last a few days, but weakness and tiredness could last for several weeks.
    Stay protected from cold and seasonal flu: keep a safe distance from individuals who appear to have influenza; avoid touching the mouth or nose and cough or sneeze into an arm or a tissue, rather than the hand.  Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep hands clean.  Also, whenever possible, try to minimize time spent in crowded settings.
  • Consider getting the flu shot.  The best line of defense against the seasonal flu is to get the seasonal flu shot. Ensure every family member is protected, especially those most vulnerable - children and the elderly.  Ask a local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist about upcoming flu shot clinics, which are being hosted in more than 400 Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Canada.
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet.  Research shows that more than half of all Canadian households do not regularly check expiry dates of medications, and if they do, they do so just before taking the product.3 In addition to prescription medications and vitamins, cold and flu products are some of the most frequently cited expired products found in medicine cabinets in Canadian households. Expired medications should be disposed of right away as they can be harmful if taken. Place expired medications in a bag and take them to a local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy to have them disposed of safely.
  • Re-stock the medicine cabinet.  After safely disposing of expired medications, the following are suggested items to re-stock the medicine cabinet to ensure it is ready for cold and flu season: alcohol-based hand sanitizer, vitamins D and C, a thermometer, fever and pain relievers, cough syrup and cold and flu medicine (day and night).  Some over the counter medications could interact with prescription medications and may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure.  Remember that most cough, cold and flu products should not be used in children under the age of six.  Ask a local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist for advice before purchasing any medication and when treating young children. 
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Getting adequate sleep (seven to eight hours each night), drinking plenty of fluids (at least eight glasses of water each day), eating healthy foods, and staying active will go a long way in staying healthy throughout the cold and flu season.

Additional Survey Highlights1:

  • Last year, 51 per cent of Canadians were concerned for themselves, their partner / children, and / or an elderly relative catching a cold or seasonal flu.
  • This year, Canadians are most concerned about an elderly relative (34 per cent) catching a cold or seasonal flu over their partner / children (27 per cent) or themselves (25 per cent).
  • Canadians aged 55+ are the most likely group to prepare in advance for this year's cold and flu season.
  • Compared to last year, fewer Canadians (41 per cent vs. 51 per cent) are currently concerned about catching a cold or seasonal flu.

About Shoppers Drug Mart
Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing. The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec).  With more than 1,180 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada.  The Company also licenses or owns more than 59 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and eight luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale.  As well, the Company also owns and operates 63 Shoppers Home Health Care stores, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services.  In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities in Ontario and Alberta.



1 Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+  to determine their level of concern for themselves or a loved one catching a cold or seasonal flu this year compared to last.  The survey also looked at whether or not Canadians plan to prepare for this year's cold and flu season.  The survey used a nationally representative sample of n1000 Canadians aged 18+ factoring in gender, region, age and education. The margin of error for a sample of this size +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.  The survey was conducted on August 24, 2010 and was sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart.

2 (Accessed September 1, 2010)

3 Living Well Listens Panel, Dec 2009

For further information:

or to set up an interview with a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist, please contact:

Lisa Gibson
Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix