Letter: Relying on luck to prevent the flu is not a good prevention plan

Getting a flu shot this year is especially important

To the Expositor:

Leaves are falling and fall is here. It is time to get ready for winter; rake the leaves, put away the summer patio furniture and get your flu shot.

Everybody knows how important the flu shot is in preventing influenza from spreading, especially this year with COVID surging in our province. So why do so many people not get vaccinated?

Most people mean to get vaccinated, but just don’t get around to it. If that was why you didn’t get vaccinated last year, think about ways that you can make it happen this year. Of all the efforts you make to improve your health (and the health of your family) getting vaccinated is the easiest and most effective.

Some people tell me that don’t need to get vaccinated because they don’t get the flu. Lucky you, but relying on luck is not a good preventative plan. Every day I work in the emergency department I treat people who are surprised to be sick. We all know bad things can happen to good people. Get a flu shot this year and keep your lucky streak alive.

Others tell me the flu shot did not stop them from getting the flu. Maybe. The flu shot, like all vaccinations, is not a hundred percent effective. But consider this, the flu shot works in two ways: it has a 70 percent chance of reducing your chances of getting infected when you come in contact with someone contagious and it reduces the number of people in the community who are contagious, helping to create herd immunity and thereby also protecting those who cannot get the flu shot for medical reasons. 

More likely, however, if you got the flu after getting the flu shot you didn’t get influenza, but one of the many other viruses that cause flu-like symptoms. Get a flu shot this year to reduce your chances of having a miserable cold (and scaring everyone that you might have COVID-19) and help reduce the number of people in our community that are exposed to the influenza virus.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the clinic/pharmacy with their sleeves rolled up and ready to stay safe and healthy. Please stay on the lookout for information on how you can get the flu vaccine. Clinics and pharmacies are making preparations and all flu shots will be by appointment only. 

Dr. Stephen Cooper

Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team