October 9, 2012 - 8:22amUpdated: October 9, 2012 - 4:00pm
George Reed receives a flu shot from Louise Nichol on Oct. 9, 2012. Chelsea Laskowski/CJME News
The Regina Qu'appelle Health Region is hoping as many people as possible get immunized for the flu this fall.
Free flu clinics start Tuesday in Regina and the surrounding area. The annual immunization drive will see about 100 clinics held in the Regina Qu'appelle Health Region over the rest of October.
“We want to make sure that everyone has access to all of the clinics in their areas and we want to make it as convenient as possible for them to get their flu shot,” explained Carol Reynolds with RQHR.
She says there are several groups that are usually at greater risk. She is encouraging them to get immunized as soon as possible.
“The elderly and young children as well as those with pre-existing conditions,” Reynolds said.
Football Hall of Fame member George Reed kicked off the immunization season as one of the first to get the shot. He gave some advice for those afraid of the shot.
"I don't look at needles because I don't like needles. So I always try to look away and try to relax and I wait for that moment when it hits you. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get to the arm than I would like for it to. But once I get it then I'm okay."
Those who get the shots aren't just protecting themselves, pointed out public health nurse Louise Nichol.
"When you get yourself immunized you're protecting yourself but you're also protecting loved ones around you.
She warns of what could be in store for those who don't get immunized.
"It can put you bed-ridden for a couple of weeks and the after-effects can last up to a month. You know, it may even cause you to be hospitalized," said said, adding that people can die from severe cases of the respiratory illness.
In comparison, the potential side effects of the shot are mild. Nichol explains a common misconception about getting sick from the flu shot.
"Some people will say to me, I got sick after I got the vaccine. It's what we call a killed virus, it's not a live virus so you cannot actually get the flu from the vaccine. So if something happens within the first 24 to 48 hours it might be a side effect, like the redness in the arm, soreness, a bit of a fever. But some people will say two weeks later they got sick, then it's not from the vaccine."
Some people are afraid of getting a sore arm after the shot. Nichol has some advice for when that happens.
"Take some Tylenol. Also, moving the arm around after gets that vaccine circulating."
She encouraged anyone who does feel quite ill within two days of getting the vaccine to contact the health region or their doctor.
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