Ask the Pharmacy Expert – Christine Pothier
Flu Shot: Should I or shouldn’t I?
Many patients ask for my professional opinion about whether they should get the flu shot or not. My answer is simple- there are very few people I don’t recommend this for. If you are at an increased risk of complications from influenza or are in contact with anyone who is, then yes I do recommend it.
The BC Centre for Disease Control furnishes a list of groups who are at an increased risk of serious complications, including death, from contracting the influenza virus:
- aged 65 years or older and aged 5 years or younger
- live in a nursing home or chronic care facility
- have lung diseases (e.g., asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- have heart conditions (e.g., angina, congestive heart failure)
- have diabetes or other metabolic diseases, kidney problems, blood disorders (anemia)
- have weakened immune systems (e.g., are taking steroid medications, have cancer, or have HIV)
- are at high risk for complications and are traveling to areas where influenza is common
- work in healthcare, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists
Not all people in the risk groups are able to receive the flu shot, however. Children under 6 months old are ineligible as their immune systems are too immature. People who have allergies to any components of the vaccine are also unable to receive the shot. Not only are these individuals at high risk but without a flu shot they are unable to protect themselves.
This is why it is important that as many people as possible receive the vaccine. The result is that a smaller portion of the population will be able to contract and pass along the flu.
Even if you are personally not at risk, consider the infant you come into contact with or the person going through cancer treatment. You may spread the flu to them without even knowing and it could potentially cause someone severe illness or possibly death.
In British Columbia, the government covers the full cost of the flu shot for those at increased risk and any who may come into contact with them. Before you decide not to get immunized, consider your loved ones, coworkers and even strangers you pass by in your every day. Getting immunized could save someone’s life.
If you are still hesitant about being vaccinated, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist. At Pharmasave Columbia Square, all of our pharmacists are Certified Injection Specialists. We are qualified and well experienced to administer vaccines to anyone aged 5 years and over. Our pharmacists are also happy to answer any questions you have about the flu and vaccinations.
Flu shots available at Pharmasave Columbia Square, where all of our pharmacists are Certified Vaccination Specialists. Call us for details at 604-525-5607.