The flu shot

Fight back, get the shot

It’s flu season, and it’s expected to be the nastiest we’ve seen yet.

If the sniffles, cough and just the utter grossness of being sick don’t inspire you to get the flu shot, maybe this will …

Year after year, government health agencies plead for the public to get the flu shot. Only a third of Canadians follow that advice.

Okay, there is a chance that even without the flu shot you may never get the flu this year. But by taking that extra step, you are contributing to herd immunity. You took one for the team. You fought for the greater good.

Because to a young, healthy person like you, the flu would have been an inconvenience. But to that person with a weakened immune system you may have been sitting next to, the flu could be so much worse.

A 2014 study by Cochrane Collaboration found that 71 people would have to be vaccinated to prevent one person from getting the flu. That’s a far cry from the current number of vaccinated Canadians.

There are over 200 strains of the influenza virus out there, and health agencies try to predict which strain will be the most prevalent in a given year. In some cases they are wrong, but with most cases they get it right.

The bottom line, as public health officials state, is immunization is the most effective way to reduce the impact of influenza.

– Olivia


Immune systems unite

Every fall we are regularly reminded to get the flu shot.

If you’re a child, elderly or part of other high-risk populations, getting the shot seems like a no brainer – but what about the rest of us?

The influenza vaccine was first created in the 1940s for soldiers in the Second World War. Before then our good ol’ immune systems did the job. We got the flu and developed the antibodies.

And the vaccine we can get at our local pharmacy today isn’t the same as the vaccine veterans got 80 years ago – or even what we got last year. The flu virus is crafty and mutates each and every year.

In February the World Health Organization meets to decide what the influenza virus will look like the following winter. Scientists make an educated guess and sometimes  they’re wrong.

In January 2015 the flu vaccine was deemed almost statistically useless by a Eurosurveillance study. Yet a Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health spokesperson said the 24 confirmed cases of influenza at the beginning of January 2015 was fairly normal.

Looks like our immune systems haven’t forgotten how to work after all.

Remember, there’s no guarantee you won’t get the flu whether you’re vaccinated or not. Take the necessary precautions regardless, and trust your good sense and antibodies to keep you safe.

– Jaime

Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik