As an asthmatic, I'm highly vulnerable to flu which can really lay me low for a long time. And once I've been infected with flu, quite often it progresses to a full-blown bacterial lung infection: bronchitis or pneumonia. For which antibiotics will be indicated . . . the expensive kind, unfortunately, since I'm allergic to the standard cheapies (penicillin etc.).
Flu is serious. Flu kills people. How many? Not clear: the research isn't all that robust. And it's highly inflected by politics. Here are a couple links to Canadian and US studies which indicate maybe as few as 300 people a year (Canada): maybe as many as 36,000 people a year (US)
One thing I do know: a bad bout of flu makes me contemplate death not only as a possibility, but even as a pretty attractive option! So naturally I'm a big fan of flu shots and have got one every year since they've been available . . . a long time now.
Getting a flu shot used to require making an appointment and attending at a flu shot clinic and lining up and often baring my arm in a quasi-public locale. (One year the line-up snaked through a cold rainy dark parking lot for over an hour, the irony not lost on me. Another year the flu shots were administered in the vast open space of City Hall rotunda!!). But now at least in Ontario the government has made it as easy and convenient as possible for everyone to get a flu shot.
Every pharmacy offers flu shots on a drop in basis. I slipped into the pharmacy across the street from my office, picked up the form, filled it out at my leisure, and then came back a day later. In and out in minutes -- although they like you to wait 10 minutes or so afterwards just to make sure there's no adverse reaction. The pharmacist (a woman, just sayin') although very busy with her regular duties was pleasant and highly skilled: I didn't even feel the shot. And of course flu shots here in Canada have always been free. Big surprise this time, the pharmacist also gave me a small folder of discount coupons on various products to encourage my return to the store. So: better than free! What's not to like?
Getting a shot, I guess. Because it's still a small minority who get the immunization.
I would be very happy if my work colleagues would all get flu shots. I photocopied the forms and posted a few beside the photocopier and let them know by email how convenient it is to get the shot. I realize, though, that for people who aren't as flu vulnerable as I am, there's way less incentive to get even this absolutely no cost and completely painless needle.
Still, those lucky people who tend to be "flu-free" are also potential flu carriers. Many of our clients are elderly or, of course, dealing with health issues. Not just me. And that's why I'd be happy if everyone got a flu shot. But even health care workers are not required to get flu shots. It's considered to be a matter of personal choice. Even in a country like mine where citizens don't necessarily believe that the best government governs least.
And I get that and respect it. Say nothing more about it. Wash my hands, use hand sanitizer (discreetly when dealing with the visibly germy), eat healthy, exercise and: ultimately my health is my responsibility. Yeah. It is.
So what do you think?
Do you get a flu shot yourself? Do you take your kids for flu shots? And do you think people in workplaces and schools and . . . just about everyone . . . . should be encouraged to get flu shots?
Or if not, why not?