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A Call to Arms: Time to Get Vaccinated!

By Marianne Rock

Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

November seems to fly by in the blink of an eye, even with the extra hour we receive pushing back the clocks. Maybe it’s the shorter, darker days, or the barrage of ads reminding us there are only so-many shopping days left until Christmas.

In the hustle and bustle of November, it’s worth making time for vaccines. That includes getting a free flu shot!

With flu season here, it’s nice to know flu shots are readily available at doctor’s offices and pharmacies. For families with children under five, the Health Unit is offering special flu shot clinics in November where both young children and parents can get flu vaccines. To book an appointment, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

We shouldn’t stop at just getting our flu shots. Let’s make a point to ensure all our family’s vaccination records are up-to-date. Like the flu shot, vaccines are safe and effective. For decades, vaccines have been saving lives around the world. In Ontario, we’re fortunate that vaccines, which protect against measles, tetanus, whooping cough, chickenpox, influenza and many other common diseases, are recommended and offered free of charge.

In the not-so-distant past, vaccine-preventable diseases took a dreadful toll on people. Today, because of widespread vaccination efforts, illnesses and deaths from these diseases have been dramatically reduced. Maybe it’s complacency in not seeing the dangers of these diseases that lead some people to refuse or put off being vaccinated.

In fact, vaccinations should be part of a healthy lifestyle – no different than putting infants and young children in child car seats, or insisting that our children wear proper helmets when biking or skating.

Again, let’s use flu, or influenza, as an example. Flu is a contagious, respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. Every winter, flu can lead to mild and severe illness that results in thousands of Ontarians being hospitalized. Some may even die from the flu.

Anyone can get the flu, but young children, older adults and people with compromised immune systems have a greater risk of getting sick and suffering more severe complications. In our own families, we may have a young child or an older parent/grandparent who fall into this ‘vulnerable’ category.

By getting the flu shot, we are helping to protect our loved ones from getting sick! Flu shots remain one of the best ways to fight influenza. Even if we get the flu after getting the flu shot, the illness is usually milder than if we had not received the vaccine.

Vaccination has saved countless lives in Canada. Let’s be thankful for what we have, and take a few minutes this November – we have an extra hour after all – to ensure our love ones have the protection they need… and deserve!