Like most parents, I smiled inwardly when I said last winter, “I hate to say ‘I told you so’ but, well, you know.” So, I have to admit that I was smiling, albeit rather ruefully, because I went on and on last flu season advising everyone – despite their risk level – to get a flu shot as early as they could.
If you ask me, there really was no reason for the mad, last-second rush in late December and January where so many people desperately tried to get a flu shot. This was especially the case, I think, among people between the ages of 20 and 60 – a group that was hit especially hard during the annual flu season.
And that’s because the prevalent flu virus last year year was H1N1, that virus first found widely in 2009, and which was commonly called swine flu. The reason that a younger demographic was hit so hard compared to older people is that this group has had very little exposure to cousins of this virus, something that seems to provide a bit of protection against H1N1.
Hence, the scramble to get inoculated once the news spread widely in the younger age group that had them saying “Hey, dudes, we’re at risk. Not just Gramma this year. Us, too. Time to get a flu shot.”
So here’s the teaching moment: the entire community is at risk from flu, sometimes one group more than another. However, if every year a much larger number of us were to get that year’s annual flu shot, then way more of us – in all age groups – would be protected from the herd immunity effect.
In other words, when you get a flu shot, you’re not only trying to help yourself, you’re also doing something to help someone else who that year may be more vulnerable to flu complications than you are – this usually means the very young and the very old.
So, even if this flu season, we go back to the same old, same old and once again, the main flu strain is one that affects mainly the very young and the very old, it would still be a huge benefit to our community if everyone in the middle aged groups also decided to get a flu shot.
So hey, if you don’t want me to go on and on again, and I’m sure you don’t, then make sure you schedule your flu vaccination appointment at London Drugs.