Wednesday, 20 January 2016 16:43

There is still time to get the free influenza vaccine

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Want proof being vaccinated against influenza is a good idea and works?

Look no further than the heart-breaking news late last week that the first official outbreak of influenza has hit Alberta and as of Jan. 14 there are five deaths on the books that can be attributed to the disease.
What makes this so heartbreaking is that for many people influenza is a completely preventable condition thanks to the ability to receive a free flu shot. Of the five deaths, four had not been immunized against influenza, and the fifth was a baby who had not yet received the second dose of the vaccine as is required for children under the age of nine.
Isn’t that proof enough that immunization works?
Alberta health officials were asking Albertans who haven’t yet done so to find their nearest health clinic, pharmacist or physician and get their influenza vaccinations because it is not too late.
Influenza starts circulating anytime from October to April and there can be more than one outbreak each season. It’s a later start than last year for the first outbreak in Alberta, but the nastiness has arrived and one of the easiest ways people can protect themselves is immunization.

Let’s dispel some of those common “myths” associated with influenza vaccination.
First of all, there is a difference between influenza, the stomach “flu” and the common cold. Symptoms of influenza are a fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius or higher that starts suddenly, cough, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and feeling tired. The biggest difference between influenza and the other two is influenza involves the whole body, always has a headache which can be severe, always a high fever and extreme tiredness. Stomach “flu” is not caused by the influenza virus.
Another common myth is people can get influenza from the vaccine. Not true. What people can get from the vaccine are some side effects which are mild and last from one to three days. They include fever and chills, irritability and/or tiredness, headache, muscle aches and pains, and redness or mild pain and/or swelling where the needle was given. The key word there would be ‘mild’ and only lasting up to three days. Most people have no reaction. It’s important people get vaccinated every year as the influenza viruses change from season to season.
One of the most compelling reasons to be vaccinated is that by doing so, people are protecting some of the most vulnerable in society who are more likely to die from complications of influenza if they contract the disease. These people include the elderly, infants, pregnant women, and people who already have comprised immune systems or underlying conditions.
Influenza is one of the few truly preventable diseases that exists and it’s as simple as getting one needle in the arm. Those people who haven’t done so yet, and who can because they have no allergy concerns or other compelling reasons not to, need to do the responsible thing and get immunized — it’s about protecting others just as much as oneself.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact her: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor