Flu Shots
Saturday November 18th 2006, 2:33 pm

Today our family received our yearly flu shot. Our doctor holds an influenza vaccine day once a year when she only gives the shots. It is very fast and efficient and we were in and out within minutes. We usually get the shots before the end of October, but the vaccine wasn’t available until later this year, due to a delay in production. There are three influenza viruses in the flu shot which change every year depending on international surveillance and estimations about which type and strains of viruses will be circulating in any given year. This year the viruses are A (H3N2) virus, A (H1N1) virus and B virus. This doesn ‘t mean anything to me or most people who get the shot, but we hope the scientists picked the right ones for this year.

It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for the antibodies to protect us against a flu virus infection, so we should be okay by the first of December. I have gotten a flu shot every year for the past ten years. My husband didn’t see the need to get one for years and only started to get one about four years ago. Not only haven’t I had the flu in over ten years, but I have had only one cold virus during that period of time, and that was earlier this year. I doubt that the flu vaccine can protect me from getting a cold, but it may improve my immune system. I also have been taking vitamin C every day for years. I take echinacea if I feel I might be getting something and I usually feel better within hours.

Our family doesn’t have to pay to get the shot because my husband is over 65 years old, but even if you have to pay the $20.00 cost, it is worth it. I have a sore arm now, but some years my arm swells and is painful, especially to lay on when I am sleeping. Usually by the next day, I feel fine. Only once during those ten years did I get a more severe reaction of fever and body aches for about 24 hours. For most people getting the flu is just an inconvenience but it can be fatal for older seniors or people who have other health problems and a compromised immune system.

More people are getting a flu shot every year, especially when they read about SARS or the Avian Flu. The flu shot won’t protect anyone against these things, but then again, the chance of getting either of these in Canada is extremely slim. Last year the Province of Ontario provided free flu shots to their entire population, which was money well spent, when you consider the cost of lost productivity and visits to hospitals and doctor’s offices, for people who get the flu.

Here’s hoping everyone gets their flu shot this year,