Typically it is the very young and very old who are at highest risk for flu complications.
However, the prevalent strain this year, H1N1, is hitting young and middle-aged adults the hardest, causing serious complications and sometimes death. H1N1 is the same strain that triggered a pandemic in 2009.
It is not known at this time whether underlying conditions in victims have been a contributing factor in deaths from H1N1.
According to retired Kelowna pulmonoligist Dr. William Arkinstall, “The question here is whether the strain has become more virulent, or whether the middle-aged have become more vulnerable. Nobody knows yet.”
Arkinstall says there is no question that the flu shot offers protection. “It’s a myth that the flu shot causes autism or Guillain Barré syndrome. Sensible people get the flu shot.”
It is never too late to get the flu shot, however, getting it may not be easy this late in the game. Your best bet is to visit the Immunize BC website for a list of locations that may still have the vaccine, however it is best to call first to confirm availability and book.
Some people have concerns about the discomfort of vaccinations. “People who experience discomfort can alleviate the symptoms by taking a Tylenol the night before they go for the shot, and another at the time of injection,” says Dr. Arkinstall. “Massaging the site will help as well.”