By Persis Abraham
Getting a flu shot is the best way to avoid getting the virus, Toronto Public Health officials said Thursday.
“Most of us think the flu is a minor infection where you can get better right away, but it can be very serious. Particularly for people who have underlying health conditions,” Toronto’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, told Humber News.
“If you have anybody like that around you, it’s very important to help protect their health,” Yaffe said.
However, she insists that getting the flu shot isn’t only crucial for people with low immune systems.
“Even for a healthy person, it can knock you out for a good week or two. You lose time off of work and there is a small chance you can get a complication. This is the best thing we have to prevent the flu,” Yaffe said.
The event took place at the Toronto Reference Library downtown on Thursday, and there were multiple flu vaccination stations set up.
Research has found that the 2014-15 flu shot was less effective than previous years, and could actually increase a persons chance of becoming ill.
Research provided in the journal, Eurosurveillance , found that the effectiveness of a flu shot can fade if a resident gets it two years in a row.
Yaffe told Humber News that despite the controversy surrounding the flu shot, it is very safe.
“Unless you’ve had a severe reaction in the past to some component, that would be something your health care professional would go over. The most common side effect is a sore arm,” she said.
Medical graduate of Brock University, Gaib Simon, said flu vaccines are the way to go and that people should not believe everything they read on the internet.
“There really shouldn’t be any controversy. There is no evidence to suggest any severe harm from flu vaccines. It prevents tons of morbidity. The worry comes from parents who read bad blogs,” Simon said.
Simon added that one perk of getting the flu shot is the concept of a herd community.
“It’s the idea that a population that is immunized becomes protective to those who are not immunized. It’s particularly important if you are around young kids, immunocompromised or the elderly for who the flu could be a life threatening illness,” Simon said.
Flu season is at it’s peak with the weather getting colder.
Yaffe offered advice to residents during her speech in the media room.
“It is important to stay home if you’re sick and don’t spread it. Wash your hands well, and if you cough or sneeze do it into your sleeve. Of course, for your own health do the usual basics which is good sleep, healthy food and just take care of yourself.”