Daily Archives: October 29, 2010

So Shoot Me

This month I’ve been working on a series of articles about influenza – ’tis the season, after all. And what do all the doctor-experts I speak with keep repeating like a mantra? Get immunized. Get immunized.

There are still lots of Canadians who don’t get a yearly flu vaccination. But I’m not one of them. I was pregnant the last time I had the seasonal flu. I started getting immunized every fall after that, and let’s just say my baby has been out of diapers for a very long time.

My husband is considered at high risk for flu complications, and it’s long been recommended that we family members get the flu shot. I have to admit, though, that’s not the only reason I get a stick in the arm every season. Frankly, the flu sucks. It knocks the stuffing out of you. It sends you straight to bed, aching all over and useless for anything. It sets you back at least a week or two. In my household, of which I am the queen, we simply can’t afford to have me incapable of lifting a finger. Meals wouldn’t be made, laundry wouldn’t be done, bills wouldn’t be paid, quite possibly my daughter would run with a pack of street urchins. Really, who needs the flu?

Gradually the sensibility of immunization has been broadened. The American Medical Association now recommends virtually everybody get it, and Canadian medical authorities are following suit. The fact is, the flu vaccine is pretty effective most of the time. As I reported in another health article earlier this year, it can prevent up to 90% of us from getting sick with the flu and passing it on.

So what does this actually have to do with good deeds? The connection was made for me yesterday. I was chatting on the phone with a doctor in Quebec. He told me that a community’s death rate spikes crazily during flu season, and that gave me chills. Of course we’ve all heard flu can kill people. But did you ever think it knocked out quite so many of our neighbours? If you’re immunized, then, not only are you a lot less likely to get sick, but you’re a lot less likely to make someone else sick.

That’s where the good deed comes in. When you get the flu shot – which is now free in many parts of Canada – you are doing something good for more than just you. You’re protecting all types of at-risk people in your community, including folks over 65, kids under two, people in cancer treatment, people with asthma, people with kidney and liver disorders, people with heart disease and people like my husband.

We all have our own reasons for our choice when it comes to vaccination. I guess I’ve just added another reason for mine.