Flu shots are a sound investment with winter on its way

By Sarah Morrill

It is that time of year again when the nasty flu virus begins to make its presence known. The human race’s best defense is the flu shot. It is not only for seniors and little kids anymore, so everyone can benefit from the flu shot according to Health Canada and the Calgary Health Region Authority.

The CRHA recommends that everyone, even healthy people, get flu shots. The virus changes from year to year so the one you got last year is not good enough for this year.

University of Calgary Health Services offered flu shots on a walk-in basis on Oct. 24-25 this week. They have already inoculated 95 student and staff at the U of C. There will be more flu clinics set up in November. The cost is $15 and students need to have a valid health care card.

For people at high risk, flu vaccinations are free of charge. Unfortunately, students who are worried about missing midterms because of the flu are not considered high risk and are still expected to pay for their vaccination. Seniors, infants between 6-23 months, and persons with chronic medical conditions are all considered high risk in Alberta.

Last year the flu season started early and the CRHA is preparing for the same this year. The flu is characterized by aches and pains, a high fever, chills, cough and complications that could lead to pneumonia and even death. It is estimated that 1,500 Canadians, mostly seniors, will die from the flu each year.

Canada has 10 million doses of the flu vaccine, and according to Health Canada this number is more than enough for all Canadians who need the vaccine to get it. The vaccine shortage in the U.S. will not affect Canadians. Any surplus that Canada may have could go down to the states only after their licensing issues with the two vaccines we use are resolved. Americans that cross the border looking for their flu shot are going to have to wait until Canadians get theirs first.

The side effects of the flu shot are limited when compared to the effects the flu virus can have on a person. The vaccine is effective in two to three weeks and the most common complaint is soreness around the area of the shot.

The vaccine is made from an inactive version of the virus and is grown in chicken eggs. You cannot get the flu from the shot because the virus is not alive. If you are allergic to eggs you should not get the shot. For healthy adults and children the flu vaccine is 70-90 per cent effective. You cannot get the vaccine if you are under six months of age or are currently sick. If you have a fever on the day you are scheduled for your shot, wait until you are feeling better before getting vaccinated.