Did you know that April 21-28 is National Immunization Awareness Week?
This blog was written by Dr. Janice Owen, MD. Dr. Owen is a Family Physician and the Medical Advisor for the Telehomecare Expansion Program.
Let's use this opportunity to refresh our knowledge on the flu vaccine. Our patients are in the high risk group for the flu and they need our help.
We need to let our patients know that the flu is a serious illness that affects millions of people in Canada each year. Up to 8000 people die from it including very young children, elderly people and patients with COPD and HF. It is one of the most important things they can do to prevent acute exacerbations.
So knowing this, what tools do we need to convince our patients with COPD and HF to get their shots if they haven't been getting them every year?
The first thing we need to do is know why they are not getting their flu shots. We have to help them separate fact from fiction.
Fiction: The flu vaccine can give me the flu.
Fact: The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza because it does not contain any live virus. Flu vaccines only contain parts of the more common strands of flu viruses in order to prompt your immune system to create the right antibodies to fight off the real virus.
Fiction: The flu shot doesn't work.
Fact: It is the most effective means of preventing illness in 70 to 90% of healthy children and adults. If you do get it, the symptoms may be milder.
But supporting your patients doesn't stop there. Now that they know the facts, do they have a place where they can easily get a flu shot? Do they get a reminder call to go and get their shot? Can they get to a clinic easily, or do they need someone to make a house call?
Last but not least, protect yourself and your world, and get your flu shot!
It is safe, effective, and the benefits far outweigh the most common side effects, which are temporary minor reactions. The more people who get the shot, the better chance we all have of not getting the flu.