Why I'm a flu shot convert

By Jenn Watt


F or years and years I gave hardly a thought to getting a flu shot. As a reporter I would dutifully attend photo-ops of health-care workers and administrators rolling up their sleeves reminding the public that it is now flu season – time to get your shot! But it never seemed like an issue that affected me.

And in a way it didn’t. Young people are less likely to experience the most dangerous effects of the flu. It is those in more vulnerable populations that need their shot – pregnant women children older people those with compromised immune systems – because those groups have a higher risk of complications.

I figured I would take my chances.

What hadn’t fully sunk in for me was that although I would likely survive a bout of the flu I couldn’t fully control who I spread it to when I was sick. Could I ensure that I hadn’t touched any door knobs at my workplace; that I hadn’t coughed while standing in the aisle at the pharmacy; that I hadn’t handed off germs when I dropped my book back to the library? Of course I couldn’t.

The flu vaccine hasn’t had the best PR in recent years largely because scientists aren’t always perfect when it comes to selecting the influenza strain to inoculate against. There is also the chance that if you get the shot you’ll still get the flu.

However the health unit says there’s value in the shot even if that’s the case. The flu will likely be less robust and won’t linger as long if you’ve got the shot. And if you get the shot and it prevents you from getting sick you and everyone around you will be protected from an illness that can have serious consequences for some.

This fall one of my relatives an otherwise healthy woman in her early 30s got the flu not once but twice. It made life miserable and she was out of commission for the better part of two weeks with the last bout. She stayed home and eliminated any interactions with vulnerable populations but she said it was so horrible – and she had lost so much valuable time as she shivered and sweated in bed – that she wishes she had got the shot on the first day it was available.

The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit says the flu is in our region. On Wednesday it had its first laboratory-confirmed case.

This is the time to roll up your sleeve and take one for the team. Visit your local pharmacy or health-care provider to get your shot or have your questions answered about this year’s flu vaccine.