Anti-Vaccine Propaganda… the Real Virus

Anti-Vaccine

Guest blog by: Lesley Maisey

As adults, we rely on our foundation of life experience and knowledge to guide our decision making. The difficulty lies in the areas where our knowledge is perhaps biased, negatively influenced by media, or incomplete. The question then becomes how do we as health professionals change someone’s opinion on a hot topic such as influenza immunization with all the misinformation and fear mongering about vaccines? The short answer is education.

I had an opportunity to test this with a group of firefighters during the BC immunization campaign for the 2012-2013 flu season. Last year was unique as policy on influenza immunization had changed for this season for firefighters.  In their role as first responders, the mandate was either receive your annual flu shot or wear a mask prior to entering any patient care situation.

Many firefighters arrived at the clinic to receive the flu shot but many felt they were under duress. This resistance was stemming from two main areas of thought: firstly, people like to have choices and resent being backed into a corner with no perceived option. Secondly, the amount of misinformation about the flu vaccine circulating in the news and in day to day conversation was enough to overwhelm the average person. This leaves people with an uneasy feeling that something must be wrong.

In the case of the reluctant firefighters, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to educate either one on one or in small groups about the benefits of receiving flu vaccine. I was able to provide accurate health information and dispelled some of the tales that abound regarding vaccines. In the case of  these firefighters, the end result was the highest compliance rate I have seen yet with regards to influenza immunizations. Adults like to understand why something is important. Armed with information, many of the firefighters who initially declined a flu shot ended up completing a consent form and receiving the shot.

Moving forward to next season, initial resistance can be overcome with education. It is important to take the time to address people’s concerns, dispel the myths and provide the individual with accurate information in order to assist with informed consent.

Education is critical in countering the anti-vaccine propaganda. Propaganda is equivalent to a virus as it is just as infectious and contagious. Let’s work on getting everyone the antidote in the form of information.

Learn more about immunization here: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/

Lesley Maisey, RN, BSN, COHN(C), MA
Occupational Health Nurse

 

 

Influenza, All You Need to Know

Influenza

It’s that time of the year again; the leaves are changing colour and our noses are runnier. We can’t do much about the leaves, but we can protect ourselves and others from Seasonal Influenza.

What Is Influenza?

Influenza refers to illnesses and symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, caused by a number of different influenza viruses. Typical symptoms are fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Annual outbreaks usually occur during the late fall through early spring.

How to Protect Yourself and Others?

The best prevention for influenza is getting vaccinated. An influenza vaccine not only provides protection for an individual, it also helps protect vulnerable populations that are at a higher risk of complications.

These “high risk” groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children 5 years of age and younger
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • People with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes

Receiving an influenza vaccine is particularly important if you work in a high-risk environment such as a hospital. As you can be infectious with the influenza virus for up to 24 hours before displaying symptoms, you could inadvertently spread influenza before you become sick with symptoms. The seasonal influenza vaccine is extremely safe for everyone, including pregnant women and children. Learn more about vaccination here. Other ways to help protect yourself and others from getting influenza include:

  • Staying home from work if you have influenza-like symptoms
  • Regularly washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue

What if I Get Sick?  

If you have influenza-like symptoms you should:

  • Stay home, drink clear fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid close contact with others

If you have significant influenza symptoms or are in one of the high risk groups (see above), you should see your health care provider, preferably within the first 48 hours, to see if you are eligible for antiviral medications. If you are taking care of someone at home who has influenza remember to protect yourself and others in the household.

What Is Pandemic Influenza Again?

Pandemic influenza refers to a novel influenza A virus for which there is little or no immunity in the human population. Because it is a novel virus, it takes approximately 6 months to develop an effective vaccine. A pandemic influenza virus can cause serious illness and spreads easily from person-to-person worldwide. The most recent example of a pandemic influenza was in 2009, caused by the novel H1N1 (swine) virus.

Google Flu Trends Outlook for British Columbia: Moderate

 

Google Flu TrendsGoogle Flu Trends is a very powerful tool that can predict the severity of the upcoming flu season with frightening accuracy. Using Flu Trends we can monitor flu activity in real-time, often ahead of reporting agencies. At this time Google Flu trends is reporting a flu activity to range from low to moderate throughout Canada. Explore Google Flu Trends

Further Information on the flu may be found here. 

 

Seasonal Influenza, A Helpful Reminder

Seasonal Influenza

It’s that time of the year again, leaves are changing colour, days are getting shorter and our noses are getting runnier. There is not much we can do about the leaves or the days but we can protect ourselves and others from catching Seasonal Influenza.

What Is Influenza?

Influenza refers to illnesses and symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, caused by a number of different influenza viruses.  Typical symptoms are fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.  Annual outbreaks of seasonal influenza usually occur during the late fall through early spring.

How to Protect Yourself and Others?

The best prevention for influenza is getting vaccinated.  An influenza vaccine not only provides protection for an individual, it also helps protect vulnerable populations that are at a higher risk of complications from influenza.

These “high risk” groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children 5 years of age and younger
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • People with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes and immunocompromised persons

Receiving an influenza vaccine is particularly important if you work in a high-rick environment such as a hospital. As you can be infectious with the influenza virus for up to 24 hours before displaying symptoms, you could inadvertently spread influenza before you become sick with symptoms.   The seasonal influenza vaccine is extremely safe for everyone, including pregnant women and children.  Other ways to help protect yourself and others from getting influenza include:

  • Staying home from work if you have influenza-like symptoms
  • Regularly washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue

What if I Get Sick With Influenza?  

If you have influenza-like symptoms you should:

  • Stay home, drink clear fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid close contact with others

If you have significant influenza symptoms or are in one of the high risk groups (see above), you should see your health care provider, preferably within the first 48 hours, to see if you are eligible for antiviral medications.  If you are taking care of someone at home who has influenza remember to protect yourself and others in the household.

What Is Pandemic Influenza Again?

Pandemic influenza refers to a novel influenza A virus for which there is little or no immunity in the human population.  Because it is a novel virus, it takes approximately 6 months to develop an effective vaccine.  A pandemic influenza virus can cause serious illness and spreads easily from person-to-person worldwide.  The most recent example of a pandemic influenza was in 2009, caused by the novel H1N1 (swine) virus.

Further Information  More information on this year’s seasonal influenza may also be found at:
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/influenza/index-eng.php