Four in 10 Saskatchewan residents say they will not be getting the flu shot this year, according to a new poll by Insights West.
264 people participated in the online study between Aug. 22 and 28, and there were various concerns about immunization cited by those who said they weren’t getting it — including 31 per cent who said they don’t think it’s effective or it only works for previous strains of the virus.
Another 30 per cent said they think healthy people don’t need a flu shot, 16 per cent said they believe it can have negative side effects, and one in five said they forget to get it or just don’t get around to it.
“Unfortunately, many Saskatchewan residents might not get a flu shot this year due to misconceptions about the benefits of receiving a flu shot and concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, said Gianni Del Negro, a pharmacist at London Drugs.
“The reality is that the flu shot is safe and it is the most effective tool we have in protecting against the flu, preventing its spread and ultimately it saves lives.”
The perception that the flu shot can have negative side effects or cause someone to get the flu, is not correct, according to Dr. Tania Diener, medical director for immunization with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
“You definitely cannot get influenza from the vaccine, it’s inactivated. So if you do get sick during the flu season, it’s likely you have some other cold that’s caused from a different virus,” said Diener.
The most at-risk individuals for contracting the flu are elderly people, those with underlying health conditions, and children under the age of five. Children under the age of 6 months cannot get the flu shot.
She added it’s important to get the flu shot every year.
“The strains change a little bit every year, but like any other vaccine, it’s not 100 per cent. The effectiveness is 40-60 per cent overall, and it depends on the person’s age, underlying conditions, and strains going around,” said Diener.
And for those thinking they are of perfect health and won’t need one — Del Negro said: “Even healthy individuals should get a flu shot because the higher the rate of vaccination, the greater the protection for the most vulnerable individuals.”
The flu shot campaign begins Oct. 21, which is when it becomes available as well.
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