Influenza vaccinations on the rise in P.E.I.

By Maddie Keenlyside
Jan. 25, 2014

With a fatal case of H1N1 in Alberta stirring headlines and fear, many have lined up for the influenza vaccine.
P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Officer, Heather Morrison, said Canada is seeing a typical flu season this year, but rates of immunization on the Island seem to be growing.
The strong uptake of the vaccine this season is encouraging, Morrison said.
“The greater number of people who are immunized, the less risk that influenza will be circulating in our environment.”
If the trend continues, the number of overall vaccinations will be higher than in previous years, she said.
“It is always good when people think about the importance of immunizations and encouraging behaviors to protect themselves and others from illness.”
Greg Gairns, manager of the Holland College Student Union, said he’s planning to get the vaccine on Monday.
“Not to protect myself, but to protect the people around me.”
Leslie Holt, who works at Holland College’s Library, says she hasn’t had one and doesn’t plan on getting one .
“I just don’t think I need it. My immune system is built up, I’m a healthy person, and in the low-risk group.”
However, Morrison said all Islanders six months and older, particularly those at high risk of complications, are encouraged to get the vaccine.
“The influenza vaccine is up to 70 per cent effective in preventing influenza and it reduces the chance of being hospitalized.”
The major difference between typical flu strains and H1N1 is that it tends to impact a younger population – those from 20 to 60 years old – in higher proportions, she said.
“We have had cases of pH1N1 circulating each year since 2009, but this is the first year since it has become the predominant strain.”