Maryanne Pham (left) and Renae Bandy (right) during their internship at Prince County Hospital (Submitted Photo)
Madeleine Dinh’s family wasted no time getting the flu vaccine as soon as it was available.
The fourth-year business student at UPEI was busy in school, so she’s getting it later this week.
“Flu vaccine could reduce the risk of flu illness, especially amid the pandemic Covid-19.”
“Not only we can reduce strain on the healthcare system during this challenging time, but getting a flu shot can also minimize unnecessary tests for Covid-19 due to the similarity of symptoms. That’s why it’s important,” said Dinh.
She’s not alone.
Senior John McGowan said he’s glad the Island gets earlier access to the flu shot this fall.
“Getting the flu shot is important to everyone, especially to seniors like me. And it’s free, so why not,” he laughed, then he walked into the Parkdale Pharmacy for his appointment.
Caileigh McKay said she gets the flu vaccine every year because it helps protect the population.
“It doesn’t protect against every flu, but it helps to stop spreading the disease to the community,” said the 65-year-old Islander.
The vaccine debate looks like the controversy over wearing masks, said McKay.
“Some people out there don’t want to believe because of their own convenience.”
Those words are music to the ears of Maryanne Pham, a UPEI nursing student in her fourth year.
As flu season approaches, everyone is expected to be more cautious and responsible to protect their health and their family’s health, Pham said.
“I expect to see the demand for flu shots this year will increase.”
Vaccines stimulate the immune system to recognize and combat viruses and bacteria, Pham said. Molecules in vaccines are either inactivated or weakened, so they help the body’s immune system produce antibodies to fight diseases.
“The protection against influenza strains in the vaccine is obtained within two to three weeks after immunization and lasts for six to12 months,” she said.
Some people shouldn’t get the flu shot, including children younger than six months of age and people with severe, life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine.
The best advice for anyone who wants to get the shot is to talk to their health care provider, Pham said.
“They can help decide whether vaccination is right for you and select the best vaccine for your situation, as different flu shots are approved for people of different ages, from two-17, 18-65, and over 65.”
It is important for everyone to get the vaccine, more now than ever, she said.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, public health nursing community flu vaccination clinics will be offered by booked appointments to ensure there is a safe number of people in the clinic at any given time, and don’t forget to bring a mask to your appointment.”
Annabelle McDonald doesn’t think vaccines are for her because they don’t help to prevent the flu, she said.
“None of my family members is getting the shots, only my grandmother because she is old, but not us, in our ages.”
But that’s everybody’s choice, McDonald said.
“I’m not anti-vaccine, some might be important, but flu vaccines to me is just the way the government and pharmacies make money out of the public.”
Marilyn Barrett, the director of the health and wellness centre at UPEI, disagrees.
“If I have any suggestions for those who want to get the vaccine, do it,” she said.
“There is generally more awareness of the importance of vaccines this year.”
Everyone needs to make sure they keep their immune system strong in case they get Covid-19, said Barrett.
“Being sick with the flu could weaken your defences. You also do not want to give the flu to your parents/children/family/friends etc. and weaken their defences either.”