Needles scare some Islanders

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Flu shot time

Editor: Recent reports in the media about a virulent new strain of influenza (HIN1) have raised alarm in the public, causing an unanticipated demand for vaccination. The flu season usually starts in late fall and people are advised to get their shots then. As a result there is now a shortage of vaccine in some parts of the country. That is apparently not the case in P.E.I., though, and clinics are being set up again by the P.E.I. health-care system.

One thing that bothers me a bit about media coverage, though, is the obligatory television shot or newspaper photo of someone’s arm being duly punctured by a friendly nurse. Even unsuspecting toddlers are shown getting the shot. It seems to me that such images would tend to make those who are “needle shy” a bit averse to the procedure. Perhaps those in the media think it’s actually an encouragement for people to get it done. Or maybe they think people don’t actually know what is involved in getting vaccinated.

In fact, the procedure is quick and painless, just a little prick in the upper arm. Nonetheless, the idea of having a sharp object stuck into you, however beneficial it may be, is not a comforting thought. So off with the visuals, I say.  

Of course, there are some who don’t want to get vaccinated for other reasons — e.g., they think it will actually make you sick, or it doesn’t work anyway, or they never got the flu without the shot, etc. So you don’t want to give them yet another reason not to get vaccinated.

As I understand it from what I’ve heard and read from the medical community, what we commonly call ‘the flu’ is sometimes just a cold. And finally, there are different strains of influenza every year, some of which are potentially very serious and even life threatening. So it is important to be well informed and proactive when it comes to important health matters like this.

By the way, I had my flu shot last fall and am feeling fine (so far).

David MacCallum,

Charlottetown

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown

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