New poll shows 36% of British Columbians will avoid flu shot this year
Influenza complications even in a normal flu season can hospitalize about 12,000 Canadians and kill 3,500
Misconceptions about the benefits of receiving the flu vaccine — and concerns about its safety — are keeping 36 per cent of British Columbians from getting a flu shot this year, according to a new poll.
The Insights West survey commissioned by London Drugs found those who aren't planning on getting the flu shot are doing so because they believe healthy people don't need it or that it can have negative side effects.
"The reality is that the flu shot is safe, and it is the most effective tool we have in protecting against the flu, preventing its spread and ultimately it saves lives," said London Drugs pharmacist Gianni Del Negro, in a written statement.
Despite the misconceptions, 77 per cent of British Columbians surveyed said they recognize the importance of getting a flu shot every year to help protect those who are vulnerable to the virus and its possible complications — like babies, the elderly and people with certain health conditions.
Influenza and pneumonia are ranked among the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada.
Health Canada says even in a normal flu season, influenza-related complications can land about 12,000 Canadians in the hospital and kill 3,500.
"The higher the rate of vaccination, the greater the protection for the most vulnerable individuals," said Del Negro.
Despite the reluctance of some, the survey found 12 per cent of British Columbians who have never had a flu shot in the past, plan on getting one this year.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) said last week the first delivery of this year's vaccine will be delayed, but that additional quantities due to arrive in October will make up for it.
Large public clinics will begin offering the flu vaccine in early November, according to the BCCDC.
The standard dose, which most people receive, typically includes immunization against both the H1N1 and H3N2 influenza strains and either one or two influenza B viruses.
Insights West conducted the online survey from Aug. 22 to 28, 2019, among a sample of 624 B.C. adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.92 per cent.