Islanders are paying for flu shots, Nova Scotians are not

By Laura Hines
Nov. 7, 2014

Angela Vautour paid for her flu shot.
She’s not alone. This year Island residents can pay for their flu shots and receive them at pharmacys, with no set price rate.
Vautour paid for her shot at Shoppers Drug Mart in Charlottetown for $14. It was a pleasant experience, she said.
“All I had to do was fill out a short form and the pharmacist asked me a few questions and it was done.”
Vautour was asked to stay in the store for 10 minutes after her shot, time she spent shopping.
The shot should be free for someone who cannot afford to pay for it, she said.
“At the end of the day, we save a whole lot more on the health care system by having the flu shot available to all.”
It would cost the system more for one visit to the doctor than it would be for the flu shot, she said.
“We don’t want essential services not available to all.”
Registered Nurse Kellie Fletcher is required to have her flu shot, as are other health-care providers.
It’s important for people with compromised immune systems to have their flu shots annually, she said.
“Such as people with chronic disease, people taking immunosuppressive drugs, children and the elderly.”
Although it’s not mandatory, police officers are encouraged to get a shot, as are firefighters and paramedics, she said.
Some schools, such as Dalhousie University in Halifax, offer free clinics around campus and in some residences for students to receive their flu shots.
The clinics are only available to students and staff at the University of Kings College and Dalhousie with the presentation of their student ID and their health card.
Candace Kimball is among the students at Kings who will get her flu shot on campus. It will be her first flu shot, she said.
“My reasoning for not getting it before was because I didn’t like the idea of having something injected into me that I had no way of proving that it was what they said it was.”
She understands it helps prevent not only her, but people around her, from getting and spreading the illness, Kimball said.
“So that is why I’ll be getting one this year.”
Dalhousie nursing student Shanda Smith works with seniors, who are more likely to get sick if they get the flu.
She received her flu shot from the free clinic at Dalhousie.
She doesn’t feel she is at high risk, but when your immune system is down, you can’t always fight the flu without the help of the vaccine, she said.
“Most healthy people are able to fight off the flu without the help of the vaccine. I think it helps the immunosuppressed, but it isn’t a lot of good for healthier people.”
Shoppers Drug Mart and other pharmacies give flu shots out to Nova Scotians with the presentation of their Nova Scotia health cards for free, said Smith.
“I don’t think I would bother getting a flu shot if I had to pay and didn’t need it for my job.”