Flu Season

Influenza Vaccine 101

December 1, 2017

1 December, 2017



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John Holbrook NP, CNCCP(c), PCP(f), MScID (cand).

You really can’t avoid the message: “Get the flu shot.”  It is broadcasted across all plains of social media, in pharmacies and your local medical practitioner’s office. You certainly know the narrative by now – Health Canada reports immunization rates well below the target 80%- somewhere between 31% and 65% depending on the age group.

The internet is full of conflicting stories about the flu shot.  So, let’s summarize what we know:

  1. The flu shot (like any medicine) has risks and benefits,
  2. Influenza contributes to 3500 deaths and 12200 hospitalizations in Canada annually
  3. Vaccination, along with frequent handwashing, is the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe as well as high risk individuals around you.
As members of Ornge’s Paediatric Transport Team, we see the effect of influenza first hand.  Our patients, by virtue of their age, are among the highest risk.  Patients with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or other complex medical problems, are frequently affected by respiratory infections like influenza, making November to April our busiest time of year.
Our main role is to advocate for the best interests of our patients.  Every year, each member of the team carefully considers the risks and benefits associated with the flu shot.  Each member of the team gets vaccinated because the benefit it provides to our patients far outweigh the risks.
As patient advocates, public vaccination protects our patients.  As such, we want to encourage you to get educated – find a reliable source of information and learn about the risks and benefits.  Once you do, we are comfortable that the risks are well worth the benefit that they provide to our patients!
The vaccine is completely free, is provided in many locations across Ontario and takes only a short time to receive. Don’t know where to go? Visit Ontario.ca/Flu and use the Flu Vaccine Locator Tool to find an influenza immunization clinic nearby.



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