Today’s blogger is Dr. Perry Kendall. He’s BC’s Provincial Health Officer. He has a passion for public health and was awarded the Order of British Columbia for his contributions to Public Health practice and to harm reduction policy and practice in BC. Thanks for joining us Dr. Kendall!
Winter often brings the chills, with more of us getting colds and the flu virus (influenza). For most, this brings only some unpleasant symptoms needing a little time off for recovery. But for some, however, the flu can cause serious complications, like pneumonia or even death.That’s why those with heightened risk factors are encouraged to get an annual flu shot. The same goes for the people who spend time with those at risk. The vaccine is available free to people in these risk categories. For those not eligible, it’s available for a small fee.
Despite the benefit of the flu shot, some people still have concerns. I’d like to set straight some of the most common misconceptions.
- The flu vaccine does not cause the flu. The public vaccine contains an inactive virus, so it’s not possible to get the flu from the vaccine. Common reactions include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, aching muscles and fatigue that may last one to two days. More serious reactions, such as anaphalyxis, are extremely rare.
- Mercury in the vaccine does NOT cause autism. Science has shown there is no link between vaccines containing thimerosal (mercury) and autism or other behavioural disorders. The alleged adverse health effect from thimerosal in vaccines has never been substantiated, and international bodies, such as the World Health Organization, are clear on this.
- It’s safe to get the flu shot, even if you have mild egg or latex allergies. All products used in conjunction with the vaccine are latex free. Most people with egg allergies can safely get vaccinated. If you have a history of anaphylaxis to eggs, you should receive the vaccine in a controlled setting.
Please visit ImmunizeBC.ca for more facts on the flu vaccine and clinics near you. Stay healthy this winter!