Carrie Nugent’s daughter, Mavis, turned six months on Sunday and with a trip to visit grandparents planned for the same week it was time to get her first flu shot.
After about 30 seconds of tears, Mavis was ready to go and mom had peace of mind knowing she was protecting her daughter and her grandparents. “This is nothing compared to bed time,” Nugent said, with a laugh.
According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, when you get immunized you’re not just protecting yourself, but those around you who maybe can’t get vaccinated.
“Influenza is something we sometimes minimize,” she said at the official launch of Island Health’s flu shot campaign on Monday morning. “We see this every year, older people get influenza … who are then hospitalized and never get back home.”
Influenza and the common cold sometimes get mixed up, she added. Symptoms for the cold can include a runny nose and occasionally a cough, but are much more mild than those associated with influenza.
“People describe [influenza] as being hit by a truck,” she explains. “It’s fevers, headaches, body aches — even healthy people who get sick with influenza can be wiped out for days or weeks.”
Influenza is among the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada and is estimated to cause about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually. The flu is an infection of the upper airway caused by the influenza virus, that can spread between people through breathing, coughing or sneezing.
“The other thing people are worried about is the flu shot is developed in eggs but it’s filtered,” Henry said. “And we now know there is no concern for people who have egg allergies. They can be safely immunized.”
The vaccine contains three or four strains of the influenza virus that are most likely to be circulating in the northern hemisphere during this time of year.
While the vaccines have been delayed this year due to an issue with the manufacturer, Island Health estimates all their supplies will be ready to go by mid November. It’s recommend people call their pharmacy or physician ahead of time to make sure the vaccine is available.
To find out where you can vaccinated visit immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu.