November 4, 2020
5 Reasons to Receive the Flu Vaccine
The 2020-2021 universal influenza (flu) vaccine is free and available to all New Brunswickers! As we all work to reduce the spread of illness this cold and flu season, it’s important to understand the benefits of receiving the vaccine.
Physicians Dr. Tom Laughlin, Family Medicine at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital and Horizon’s Dr. Gordon Dow, Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine share some flu facts!
Check out their top five reasons to receive the flu vaccine below.
- The flu vaccine is the most effective tool to protect yourself and your family from influenza.
“The number one reason to receive the influenza vaccine is the same this year as in any other year – it is our best tool to prevent infection and serious complications,” explains Dr. Gordon Dow.
Symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza often overlap and you cannot distinguish one from the other without laboratory testing. In general, the flu is much less subtle, it hits you like a ton of bricks with high fever, severe muscle aches, nasal congestion, headache and cough. It is rare for influenza to present with mild symptoms or no symptoms, unlike COVID-19.
The benefits of the flu vaccine apply to all age groups – including young children who, like the elderly, are at an increased risk of complications.
Parents and families will be happy to know receiving the flu vaccine can reduce middle ear infection in children, reduce transmission of the flu in daycares and has also been shown to reduce transmission to other family members who have children in daycare.
- By receiving the vaccine, you are also protecting others.
Throughout 2020, we have all been doing our part to protect our community by wearing a mask, cleaning our hands frequently and keeping a distance of at least two metres from others. The flu vaccine is another step to continue to protect those we care about.
According to Dr. Tom Laughlin, “by receiving the vaccine, you are not just thinking about yourself, but rather ensuring you are doing everything you can to limit the spread of illness, especially to the most vulnerable.”
According to the Government of Canada, less than half of Canadian adults received the annual flu vaccine, even though influenza continues to cause illness and death.
Discover more facts and stats on the flu vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website HERE.
- You are supporting your health care system.
Have you heard the term “twindemic”?
According to Dr. Dow, this is what we are trying to avoid this year. A “twindemic” is where we are faced with simultaneous waves of COVID-19 as well as the flu.
“Essentially 100 per cent of persons with influenza will fail COVID-19 screening questions on entry to any building, which will significantly complicate your daily routine. This routine will be further complicated by the fact that you will have to go to an assessment center to have testing for both viruses performed,” said Dr. Dow.
Help us, help you, by receiving the flu vaccine! You’ll be doing your part to significantly reduce the chance you will have these two huge inconveniences and will reduce the stress on Horizon assessment centres.
Dr. Laughlin also highlights receiving your flu vaccine will help preserve resources during the pandemic.
The most dramatic benefit from the flu vaccine is it reduces hospitalization and mortality by 50 per cent. Did you know 3,000 Canadians die yearly from influenza?
It’s clear we all need to work together, and by reducing influenza hospitalizations and deaths, we are also reducing the need for health care visits.
“This not only benefits the people who receive the vaccine, but it also provides a huge relief to our health care system, which it is already strapped with bed occupancy rates that are close to 100% most of the time.”– Dr. Dow
- The flu vaccine is safe – even during a pandemic.
Physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and nurses providing the vaccine in the community are taking extra steps to administer it safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the measures include:
- Screening for COVID-19.
- Mandatory masks and frequent hand hygiene for patients and staff.
- Appointments to reduce person-to-person contact when physical distancing is a challenge.
- Enhanced infection prevention and control precautions.
- A reaction to the vaccine is very rare, but you will be monitored for 15 minutes following administration of the vaccine to ensure no adverse reaction takes place.
- Horizon is vaccinating admitted patients throughout our facilities.
- You can receive the flu vaccine anytime after its annual release.
We have good news! It’s always a good time to receive the flu vaccine. This year the Government of New Brunswick is providing the vaccine free of charge to everyone in our province.
“Everyone six months and up should be receiving the vaccine,” said Dr. Laughlin.
The earlier you get vaccinated, the sooner you are protecting yourself and others against the seasonal flu; but remember: it’s never too late to receive the vaccine!
Contact your primary care provider today and book your flu vaccine appointment.
You can also view a list of Horizon flu clinics HERE.
Dr. Gordon Dow is an Infectious Disease consultant in full-time clinical practice at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital (TMH), and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Dalhousie University. He obtained his medical degree from Dalhousie University in 1987 and subsequently obtained specialist certification in Internal Medicine after completing an Internal Medicine residency at the University of British Columbia in 1992, and subspecialty certification in Infectious Diseases was obtained in 1993 at the University of Manitoba. He then completed a two-year research fellowship at the University of Manitoba and obtained a Masters in Community Health Sciences in 1999.
He is a consultant in the Division of Infectious Diseases at TMH, Director of the HIV Treatment Program, Co-chairman for the Horizon Health Network Regional Infection Prevention and Control Committee, Horizon Regional Infectious Diseases Medical Director, a member of the Provincial Pandemic Task Force and Director of the Diabetes Foot Clinic at The Moncton Hospital.
He has an active research program and has participated in over 30 clinical trials. Research interests include the management of bone, joint and soft tissue infection, amputation prevention in patients with diabetes, antimicrobial stewardship and prevention/management of infection in immunocompromised hosts.
Dr. Tom Laughlin has practiced broad scope family medicine at the Moncton Medical Clinic with privileges at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital for 41 years.
He is an Associate Professor for the Department of Family Medicine of Dalhousie University and the Discipline of Family Medicine for Memorial University.
Having a keen interest in Medical Education he has acted as the Evaluation Coordinator for Dalhousie Family Medicine and the Assistant Dean NB for Memorial University. He has worked locally and nationally on competency-based medical education and programmatic assessment to ensure the competence of future medical graduates while stimulating their learning.