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Six in ten Saskatchewan residents plan to get a flu shot this year, common misconceptions prevent many from getting vaccinated

Pharmacist debunks flu shot myths

REGINA, Saskatchewan, Oct. 22, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new survey reveals that an overwhelming majority (73%) of Saskatchewan residents believe that it is important to get the flu vaccination every year in order to help protect those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. Despite this, only six in ten (59%) plan to get the flu shot this year.

The poll, conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs, highlights common misconceptions that prevent many from rolling up their sleeves. For example, four in ten (45%) Saskatchewan residents who do not plan to get the shot this year say they won’t because they do not believe it is effective or they believe that it is only effective for previous strains. 

“This is an unfortunate and potentially deadly belief. The vaccine is always updated to protect against the viruses that health experts believe will be circulating during the upcoming season and protects against multiple strains. By getting the flu shot, you not only protect yourself, but you protect others who could have life-threatening complications from catching the flu,” says Agusia McGrath, a Pharmacist at London Drugs.

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 and includes multiple strains of both influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and influenza B.

Three in ten Saskatchewan residents (31%) who don’t plan to get the flu shot said they feel it is unnecessary because they are healthy.

“It’s a myth that if you are a healthy person then you don’t need a flu shot. Even if you are in good health, it’s important to get immunized to prevent the spread of illness to high risk individuals such as newborns, young children, pregnant women, and adults with chronic medical conditions,” says McGrath. 

Those who don’t plan on being immunized also cited concerns about negative side effects (26%) and that the vaccine might make them sick with the flu (22%).

“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 minor soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site,” says McGrath.

While some Saskatchewan residents say they aren’t likely to get a flu shot because they tend to forget don’t get around to it (10%), or find it too much of a hassle (7%), flu shots are now conveniently available seven days a week by appointment or on a walk-in basis at any London Drugs location. Pharmacists are now able to administer flu shots to anyone five years of age or older.

In recent years, longer hours, appointments, as well as flexibility for walk-in patients has allowed pharmacies to significantly improve ease of access to the flu vaccine. In fact, of the 59% of Saskatchewan residents who say they will get a flu shot this season, the largest number (31%) plan to visit a pharmacy to receive their shot, followed by public flu clinic (27%), health clinic (13%) and doctor (10%).

“Since it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to become effective we recommend people get their flu shot now. Getting the vaccine early helps ensure patients are protected before flu season peaks,” says McGrath.

As an added incentive to get immunized, for every flu shot administered at London Drugs, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to immunize children in another country. The vaccination donation campaign is in partnership with I Boost Immunity (IBI), an online immunization advocacy network.

“Patients who receive a flu vaccine at London Drugs will not only be protecting themselves and their local community, but will be making a global impact as well, by providing a life-saving vaccination to children in need around the world,” says McGrath.

The poll showed that seven in ten (71%) Saskatchewan residents feel that getting the flu vaccination each year is a responsible way to take care of both their own health and the health of others.

To learn more about getting the flu shot at London Drugs, visit: LondonDrugs.com/flu

Other poll highlights include:

  • Nearly all (99%) of those who got a flu shot last year plan to get one this season.
  • Saskatchewan men (66%) are significantly more likely to get a flu shot than women (53%).
  • Seven in ten (73%) Saskatchewan residents are aware that the flu vaccine helps prevent hospitalizations and saves lives.
  • Awareness among Saskatchewan residents about accessibility of flu shots is high. Nine in ten (89%) 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 are aware that flu vaccinations are available at most pharmacies (90%), and can be administered by a pharmacist (87%).
  • Four in ten Saskatchewan residents believe that healthy people don't really need the flu vaccination (41%) and one half believe that you can catch the flu from the vaccine (47%).
  • The majority (68%) also agree that the flu vaccination can have negative side effects. Those 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 (89%).

ABOUT THE SURVEY
Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from September 21st to 26th, 2018 among a representative sample of 250 Saskatchewan 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 +/- 6.20 percentage points. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.

ABOUT LONDON DRUGS
Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs has 81 stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba including its online store www.LondonDrugs.com. London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions. Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 7,500 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business. Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring company and continues to position itself for future growth and development.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Angela Joyce, Media Relations
403-681-9286
aj@whiterabbitcommunications.com
@angelamjoyce

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