Chief Executive Officer, The Safehaven Project for Community Living
The word ‘typical’ became obsolete back in March, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made mundane reminders of the utmost importance. Just this week, our province crossed a threshold of over one thousand cases in one day, indicating that wave two is far from over. If the soar in cases was not enough, here is the flu season right on time.
As part of our calendar year as a health and community care based not-for-profit, we hold an annual influenza vaccination campaign. Each year we encourage our clients and their families and our employees to receive the flu vaccination to better protect our organization. According to Health Canada, flu-related complications result in the hospitalization of about 12,000 Canadians each year with a death rate of 3,500. Those at most risk of having severe complications from the flu include pregnant women, children and adults who are medically fragile, and those who are clients in chronic care facilities like Safehaven.
At times, the medical world is complicated and intimidating to understand. We often receive questions and concerns from people considering a flu shot, and almost all are common myths about the flu. Questions or comments like:
Myth: The flu vaccine can cause severe side effects, so I don’t want to risk it?
Fact: The flu vaccine is proven to be safe. Severe side effects are extremely rare. One in a million people may be at risk for developing Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS); however, this is rare. Common side effects of the flu shot are mild, such as redness, swelling and soreness at the injection site. Less common symptoms include a headache, fever, and tiredness that may last only a few days.
Myth: “The flu vaccine can give me the flu, so why would I get it?”
Fact: The injected flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus that cannot give you influenza. If you feel achy or slightly feverish, it is a normal reaction of the immune system to the vaccine and generally lasts only a day or two.
A bi-product of 2020 is overwhelming exposure to media and pessimistic news cycles. At this time, I encourage readers to stay grounded. Fact check myths about the flu and COVID-19 so you are confidently informed. If you have trouble sourcing answers on the internet, reach out to your family physician, a clinic, or a health organization near you.
After researching and determining your eligibility, I challenge you to book an appointment and receive your flu shot as soon as possible. Whether your motivation is feeling protected, gaining peace of mind, alleviating pressures on our busy hospital waiting rooms, reducing the weight placed on our tirelessly brave front-lines or reducing the confusion between flu symptoms versus COVID-19 symptoms. Whatever you chalk it up to, you are doing your part to protect our Safehaven community who have lower odds of overcoming something so mundane after enduring an extraordinary year.
We are changemakers.
We are advocates.
We are community.