Half of Vancouver Island residents plan to get a flu shot this year, but common misconceptions prevent many from getting vaccinated, according to an online poll done by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs.
Of the people polled, 37 per cent feel they don’t need a flu shot because they are healthy.
Dr. Dee Hoyano, Island Health Medical Health Officer, said the flu is very contagious and can be a shock to the system even for healthy people, noting the flu tends to leave people feeling unwell longer than a cold virus.
Other misconceptions Hoyano has heard are that the vaccine only benefits people with chronic medical conditions and that people still get sick even if they did get vaccinated.
“The vaccine can benefit everybody,” Hoyano said. “The vaccine works for influenza viruses, more viruses can cause a cold and it’s hard to tell which you have when you’re sick unless you get a sample tested and send it to the lab, but a vaccine decreases the severity of illness if you get infected.”
There are two types of flu vaccines, one includes three strains, two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain, and the second includes four strains, two A and two B. Hoyano said children benefit the most from the four-strain shot.
“There are many strains of influenza and it changes season to season and in the middle of a season, it’s a very tricky bug,” she said.
Adults can get immunized through local pharmacies or by a physician after Oct. 8 and children, youth and caregivers are welcome at public heath clinics beginning Oct. 24.
One in seven Vancouver Island residents aren’t likely to get a flu shot because they tend to forget or don’t get around to it. To find a location to get a flu shot people can visit www.immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu or www.islandfluclinics.ca.