Shots Shots Shots

By N. Zelt
By N. Zelt

Well, that time of year has rolled around again. That’s right, we’re getting into flu season. School’s coming into crunch time, working hard to get papers written and experiments finished up before the holidays. What could possibly be worse than getting sick at a time like this? So, don’t forget to get the influenza vaccine.

Canadian flu season is typically active starting in November and runs until March. During these months there’s a significant peak in hospitalizations due to influenza infections. The reason for this phenomenon is debated, but what’s important is that it happens. Each year the flu vaccine is made to protect against what epidemiologists predict to be the most prevalent influenza strains for that year. It takes a fair amount of time to produce enough vaccine for the entire country however, so the prediction must be made early and is therefore not always perfect. The being said, the people who make these predictions are good at their jobs and they do quite well. If you’re curious, this year’s flu vaccine covers the strains:

–               A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus,

–               A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus and a

–               B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage).

The most at risk populations are the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and certain people with health conditions. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)  there were 270 confirmed deaths in Canada due to influenza last year, and more than 600 the year prior. Being vaccinated protects more than just you, if you’re not sick then you can’t spread it to anyone near you either. Anyone who works frequently with the public, lives with/near the elderly or spends time with children is especially recommended to receive the vaccine.

I should note that the influenza vaccine is not a live-attenuated vaccine and is therefore safe for everyone, including immunocompromised individuals. Yes, the vaccine production process still involves eggs. No, having an egg allergy is not a contraindication to receiving the influenza vaccine. However, if you are prone to severe allergic reactions against egg antigens then it is recommended to receive the vaccine in a hospital setting just to be extra safe. Risks of vaccination are very few, mild and uncommon. The benefits of vaccination are not getting the flu and possibly saving someone else’s life by not spreading the flu to them. No, vaccines do not cause autism.

If you’re reading this, you’d like to get the vaccine and you’re a McGill student, then McGill does have a vaccination service in the fall on select dates. The remaining dates are:

–               Wednesday, November 23rd from 13:30-16:00

–               Monday, November 28th from 13:30-16:00

Simply show up, first come first serve, to the Student Health Service in the Brown Building on the 4th floor. Bring your student ID card and 15$ with you, expect to spend at least 15 minutes on site, excluding any lines. The vaccine is free for health care students and certain students with chronic illnesses. For any more information, please click here.

Now you’ve been told. So get your shots, or at the very least lock yourself away from other people if you get sick and don’t complain about it.


Disclaimer: The flu is not the same things as a cold, you’re probably still going to get a cold.


Banner image by GradLife McGill Blogger N. H. Zelt

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