The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region 'healthnews' paper this summer had an article called "Preparing for a pandemic flu outbreak". It presents some alarming estimates about how the next pandemic will affect this province specifically. I've known for quite some time that we (the world) are 'due' for a pandemic outbreak because my doctor told me at least a couple of years ago. I had looked it up and read a bit about pandemics then, and it seemed a bit scary at that time, but now, seeing the numbers as they relate to people in my community--yikes! Here's an excerpt:
Dr. Diener says the next pandemic is estimated to affect about 720,000 people in the province. Predictions show 155,000 to 365,000 people will become clinically ill. There will be 66,000 to 275,000 outpatient visits with 700 to 4,300 people hospitalized.
With the possibility of many people ill with influenza to one degree or another, all sectors of society will be affected, including police departments, schools, fire departments and utilities, such as telephone companies and electricity providers.
Dr. Diener says, in response to projections regarding who will be ill, the committe is planning for an absenteeism rate of about 20 to 50 percent amongst employees ordinarily providing essential services to the public.
Saskatchewan has just under a million people, so that means 15 to 37 percent of the population will become clinically ill. Can you imagine it? This really scares me.
After having the flu last year, and seeing my child suffering as well, I don't ever want to experience that again! Madeline and I also had secondary infections that stemmed from the flu (I had a sinus infection and Madeline an ear infection). The flu is just bad. Very very bad! And the flu shot will not necessarily protect against a pandemic flu; however, the article says "Exercise good handwashing and get your influenza immunization every year, which can protect you against complications."
I say "GET YOUR FLU SHOT!" I actually have a couple of coworkers who refuse to get the flu shot, and we get the shot for free--right in our office building. I just don't understand it! These are otherwise intelligent people. They just think, well I've never had the flu before, so why bother? I have told them how bad the flu is, and how completely safe the flu shot is, but they're just stubborn. It's ridiculous.
Meanwhile, I was considering going to Public Health and paying to get my shot early this year if our work program was going to be as late as it was last year. That's what happened to me last year. I didn't get my shot until November 20 because that was the date for shots at Mobility, and it was too late by that time; I already had the flu in my body, but the symptoms didn't show up until that night. Madeline had had only one of her shots, so her immunity wasn't high enough yet. (The first year that children under nine get the flu shot, they have to get two shots, 30 days apart.) As it turns out, Mobility's day for flu shots is October 20 this year, so I guess I can wait for that.
I'm going to get the children in for their shots earlier this year too, and Neil will go to get his free shot (because he as asthma) as soon as possible (high-risk clinics start Monday). I'm going to phone public health on Monday to find out how soon I can take the girls in for their shots.
I have had a flu shot every year for at least five years now. I'm sure I had one the year before I was pregnant, so that would have been 1999, then I've had one both times I was pregnant, and both times I was nursing my babies. This year will be Sophia's third year and Madeline's second. (The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that all infants over six months of age get the flu shot.)
Meanwhile (and all year long), lots of handwashing and hand sanitizer!