Over a quarter of Metro Vancouverites still think you’ll get the flu from a flu shot

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Most people think it’s important to get a flu shot – they just don’t necessarily plan on getting one.

A new of Metro Vancouver residents said 78 per cent of us believe the flu shot is important in order to help protect those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.

The honour system is being used to ensure that all visitors to Vancouver hospitals and seniors homes have either a flu shot or wear a mask. Photograph By DAN TOULGOET

But only 54 per cent of those polled plan on getting one.

The poll, conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs, found that among those who are unlikely to get a flu shot, the most common reason is a belief that it is unnecessary because they are healthy (34 per cent).

“There is a common misconception that if you are a healthy person then you don’t need a flu shot,” said Gianni Del Negro, a Pharmacist at London Drugs, in a news release. “But even if you are in good health, it’s important to get immunized to help prevent the spread of illness to high-risk individuals such as newborns, young children, pregnant women, and adults with chronic medical conditions.”

Those who don’t plan on being immunized also cited concerns about negative side effects (24 per cent) and worries that the vaccine might make them sick with the flu (14 per cent).

“It is impossible to contract the illness from the vaccine itself because they are made with viruses that have been inactivated and are therefore not infectious. Most people don’t have reactions to the flu vaccine; those who do may have soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site,” said Gianni.

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the viruses that health experts believe will be circulating during the upcoming season – both influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and influenza B. In advance of the publicly funded vaccine, the private flu shot is now available for those five years of age and older at a cost of $20.

Other poll highlights include:

  • Nearly all (97%) British Columbians who got a flu shot last year plan to get one this season.
  • Older British Columbians, age 55 and over, are more likely to get a flu shot this season (65%), compared to those between the ages of 18 and 54 (52%).
  • Eight in ten (84%) Metro Vancouver residents are aware that the flu vaccine helps prevent hospitalizations and saves lives.
  • Awareness among British Columbians about accessibility of flu shots is high. Nine in ten (88%) are aware that flu vaccinations are available free of charge for many Canadians (including children, seniors, pregnant women, aboriginal peoples, caregivers, and a number of other employment types). Nine in ten (89%) are aware that Health Canada recommends Canadians protect themselves from the flu by being vaccinated (getting a flu shot) each year in the fall.
  •  A strong majority (85%) of Metro Vancouver residents are aware that flu vaccinations are available at most pharmacies, and can be administered by a pharmacist.
  • One third (35%) of Metro Vancouver residents believe that healthy people don’t really need the flu vaccination and one-quarter (26%) believe you can catch the flu from the vaccine.
  • A small majority (55%) of Metro Vancouver residents agree that the flu vaccination can have negative side effects.
  • British Columbians who are unlikely to get a flu shot this year are significantly more likely to agree that the flu vaccination can have negative side effects (73%).

Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from Sept. 1418, 2018 among a representative sample of 551 Metro Vancouver adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 4.17 percentage points. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.