Calling the Shots

by

Have you seen a poster like this around your office? Or have you seen it on a television commercial? It’s a popular piece of media to remind us one of the many ways we can prevent spreading illnesses such as colds and flu’s throughout the community.

However getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of influenza to yourself, your co-workers, your friends and family, or anyone else you interact with throughout the day. Although the flu shot cannot protect you against the common cold, there are a number of benefits to getting immunized each year.

One of the biggest benefits to getting a flu shot each year is that it prevents spreading the disease to people who are at a greater risk from becoming seriously ill, such as young children, infants, seniors, and those with a compromised immune system such as cancer patients. For these vulnerable populations contracting the influenza virus can sometimes lead to more complicated health issues, or even death; while others may experience only a mild case of the illness (Source). To see if you’re on the recommended list to get a flu vaccine and for more information about the flu shot, click here.

So do you really need any other reasons to get your flu shot?

Even if you’re a relatively healthy individual, protecting yourself against the flu may also help protect others. You may have the luxury of taking sick days from work or have a support system to take care of your children when you’re sick, but many people in our region don’t have one or both of these same luxuries. Catching a cold or flu and being forced to take time off work or manage other illnesses as well can put a tremendous amount of stress into someone’s lives. Not being able to work could mean a downward spiral in the control of their finances. Or having another virus in their body may put them at risk for a long and complication period of hospitalization.

Think back to the story we shared about Ronald, a man who turned to food banks after an injury at work and no paid sick time gave him no other way to feed his family. What if the reason Ronald got hurt was because he couldn’t take time off work while he had the flu and couldn’t concentrate properly to avoid the situation? He may not have had the bus fare to access one of the clinics, because any extra money after paying rent and other bills is quickly used for other circumstances like new clothes for his growing young kids. And keeping money in a savings account rarely happens because each month despite how hard he works life costs about as much as his paycheck earns each week.

And think about how getting the flu will affect people like Anna, a recently diagnosed cancer patient. Her body is already undergoing stress from various treatment options and trying to maintain her strength and weight to keep her healthy. Contracting the flu would be pretty easy for her because her body is on the brink of exhaustion after visiting numerous medical appointments, trying to keep up with eating a balanced diet, and other demands of life such as housecleaning and budgeting. Unfortunately if she does contract the flu there is a good chance it won’t just be a short period of getting extra rest and lots of fluids; Anna has a much higher risk of developing another type of infection like pneumonia, which her body may not be strong or healthy enough to recover from.

Or what if one of the 168 new households that came in for a hamper in December was due to the fact that someone was unable to work or had extra costs after recovering from the flu virus? And what if one of these people was unable to pick up a hamper that they desperately needed for their family because they were too ill and didn’t have the support of a friend or family member to do so on their behalf?

Getting a flu shot is a smart decision – not only for yourself, but for many people in the community who may not be able to cope with the effects of catching the influenza virus. Though the Region of Public Health has just wrapped up most of their community flu clinics, it’s not too late to get immunized. You can make an appointment with your family doctor, go to a walk-in clinic, or visit the Immunization Clinic at the Region of Waterloo.

The more people who are vaccinated, the more protection there is for everyone in the community. (Source)

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