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Opinion: Get the flu shot and protect yourself and your community

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Reported by Chelsea Powrie

Getting the flu shot is the responsible thing to do for yourself and for your community, and there should not be any excuses.

The flu shot contains an inactivated virus that will provide immunity from that strain for one year. The key word is inactivated, meaning the virus is dead, and it is impossible to contract the flu from it. To reiterate: you cannot get the flu from the shot.

In Canada, diseases that are preventable through vaccines are experiencing a rise, with people choosing not to immunize themselves.

What you may experience after the shot are side effects such as a sore arm, a mild fever, chills or a headache. These are your body’s reaction to the vaccine and will subside in a few days, at most.

Annoying, yes, but if you’re not willing to put up with some mild discomfort to help protect vulnerable members of your society, then you need to re-examine your priorities.

I used to avoid the flu shot. I hated the feeling, and I didn’t understand the science. Then, my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which leaves him at high risk for complications from the flu. Now I get the flu shot every year.

My brother isn’t alone in needing protection. Elderly people, cancer patients, pregnant women and infants are just a few example of vulnerable populations. Babies are especially at risk because they can’t receive their own vaccine until they are at least six months old.

Around 3,500 people die from the flu in Canada each year. Just last May, a mother in Ontario woke up to find her two-year-old child dead of the flu.

There are no excuses for not getting a flu shot if you do not have a medical reason to avoid it. Think about the vulnerable people in your life, and ask yourself how you would feel if they ended up in the hospital with the flu because somebody they interacted with just didn’t like needles, or didn’t bother to educate themselves.

Go get your shot.

Read our related story about vaccination here

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Cartoon made by Veronnica MacKillop

 

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