What you need to know about the Flu shot
Flu shot – As Quebec launches its annual flu vaccination campaign, provincial health authorities are emphasizing just how important it is to get the shot in order to prevent getting sick – especially for children and the elderly who are more at risk, as well as our health care workers. It is a controversial issue, with some people adamantly against it and others taking the shot without hesitation.
One thing everyone agrees on, they don’t want to end up out of commission, missing work and other commitments – and instead find themselves in bed coughing and sneezing with fever, headaches, nausea and a body that feels like one big, aching train wreck.
Flu shots are given as a preventative measure – especially against a full blown epidemic. The goal is to stop the virus from spreading and to help prevent those who are more susceptible from catching the strains of the season. Complications from the flu can result in bronchitis, pneumonia and other serious infections, which can prove deadly for people with weaker immune systems.
Many are still very much opposed to it and do not get the vaccine. It does have its risks like severe allergic reactions, such as a seizure – but it is very rare and why they make you wait 15 minutes after getting a shot. And although there is no confirmed evidence, anti-vaccine proponents claim it can cause serious problems, like autism – caused by thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative in the mix.
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, vaccines do contain harmful adjuvants and preservatives, and possibly viral proteins. They claim that ‘brain inflammation and death are known side effects of every vaccine. But what most people don’t take into consideration is that conditions such as autism, ADHD and learning disabilities are manifestations of an inflamed brain’. For instance, some vaccines contain aluminum compounds, a neurotoxin associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia – or monosodium glutamate, a preservative associated with delayed learning, and behavioral and reproductive disorders. It is clear more research needs to be done.
But the most common side effect is swelling where the vaccine was injected. These reactions, are most likely to be your immune system reacting to the virus particles in the vaccine and go away after just a few days. According to Quebec’s Ministère de la Santé et des Services, the flu vaccine is safe. It cannot transmit flu or other illnesses. In fact, the viruses or a part of the viruses that it contains are too weak to reproduce and cause any illness. But if you do get the flu, it’s probably because you picked up the virus before the vaccine started working, as it takes about two weeks before really kicking in and lasts approximately six months.
A bigger question is how effective a flu shot really is? The World Health Organization (WHO) and Canada have several ‘vaccination surveillance programs’ aimed at ensuring the quality of vaccines offered and how it is administered. The viruses causing the flu can change each year and there is no way to predict exactly which strain will be more predominant, it is why the composition of flu vaccines are reviewed annually in order to include the strain most likely to be in circulation each season, and they have been wrong before. This year they apparently got the strain right.
For the 2017-18 season, the vaccine offered through the Québec Flu Vaccination Program contains the following strains: A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1), A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2), B/Brisbane/60/2008 and B/Phuket/3073/2013 (in the quadrivalent injectable vaccine only).
The bottom line is that the flu spreads quite fast and it has already arrived in the Greater Montreal area. People most at risk of developing complications should at least consult their physicians. For information on Quebec’s Flu Vaccination Campaign, see the ‘Where To Get Vaccinated’ section at: http://www.sante.gouv.qc.ca/en/programmes-et-mesures-daide/programme-de-vaccination-contre-la-grippe/
Will you be getting the vaccine? Or will you be staying as far away from it as possible – and just as far away from people who are coughing and blowing their nose? And a ‘gesundheit’ to all!
Bonnie Wurst – mtltimes.ca