Every year at this time, we hear the call to get your flu shot. It should come as no surprise - the risk for flu peaks in Canada during the fall and winter, when flu viruses survive and travel farther in the cool, dry air. From there, influenza spreads quite easily from person to person, often by touching or sneezing/coughing but also by coming in contact with the virus on objects such as doorknobs and phones. As a result, a particularly virulent strain of influenza can spread rapidly through a population, posing a serious risk to those with weakened immune systems, such as seniors, children, and those with health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease and even obesity.
As Rick Mercer says in one of his famous “Rick’s Rant” segments, we tend to “only get freaked out when it’s named after a pig or a chicken but, yet, every year the old-fashioned, no-name flu kills a whack of Canadians.”
So, given the potential impact on us and those around us - keep in mind, there are about a billion worldwide cases of the flu in a year, resulting in 250,000-500,000 deaths - why do many people forego getting their flu shot? The answers vary from person to person but common answers include a fear of needles, the inconvenience in booking an appointment, and the belief that the flu vaccine will result in you having the flu.
It’s pretty easy to lay those concerns to rest. For children with a fear of needles, flu vaccines can now be given via nasal spray. Accessing a flu shot is now easier thanks to pharmacists’ expanded scope of practice, which allows you to get your flu shot at your local pharmacy. Also, some workplaces will coordinate a nurse or pharmacist visit to administer the vaccine at your office. Finally, it’s impossible to get the flu from having a flu shot; the flu virus used to immunize your body has already been neutralized so that it’s literally just a shell of its former self. In rare cases, you might experience aches or muscle pain but that’s simply your body adjusting to the vaccine and go away after a day or so.
By vaccinating, you’re not only helping to protect yourself from the flu, you’re also helping to avoid becoming a carrier who could infect the more vulnerable members of our society. If that’s not enough of an incentive, consider that some healthcare facilities will actually require you to wear a mask if you cannot prove that you had the flu shot.
With Your Health Report, you can easily track your flu shots from year to year and have that proof right on your phone wherever you go. It also serves as a convenient record to share with your doctor or healthcare provider if they ever have questions about your immunization status. It’s just another way that Your Health Report empowers our users to take control of their health.
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