The best defence against contracting the flu is the appropriate vaccine for the particular strain circulating that year.

The best defence against contracting the flu is the appropriate vaccine for the particular strain circulating that year.

Opinion: Your best shot at avoiding the flu

The more people who do get vaccinated, the better our chances at avoiding the flu.

It’s that time of year again.

With the changing weather and fall colours comes a less pleasant season – the flu season.

And this one, experts say, could be a bad one.

According to Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, last year’s low vaccination rate could have implications this year.

She’s worried that confusion over the appropriate vaccine for the flu strain that eventually emerged might deter people from getting a vaccine this year.

That could have serious implications for the vulnerable because this year the more deadly H3N2 virus will likely be more prevalent.

That’s something we all need to take seriously. Influenza might be a minor inconvenience for some of us, but for others it can mean hospitalization and even death.

Every year in Canada thousands of people die because of complications caused the flu. And while those numbers may sound high, they’re likely even higher because of the way deaths are recorded.

The best defence is the appropriate vaccine for the particular strain circulating that year. It’s not perfect, and even with a vaccination people might still get sick.

But the more people who do get vaccinated, the better our chances.

“We call this approach ‘community’, or ‘herd’ immunity,” says Fraser Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler. “This occurs when a critical portion of the community is immunized against contagious illnesses like the flu, the spread of the disease is contained, and those who can’t get a flu shot for health or medical reasons are better protected.”

Of course, there are other things we can do to lessen our risk: wash our hands regularly, cough or sneeze into our arm, and isolate ourselves if we become ill.

But vaccination is a critical tool in keeping ourselves, and those we love, healthy.

It’s free for some, and not very expensive for the rest.

Vaccinations are available at multiple locations around Chilliwack.

For more information on who is eligible for free flu shots and where to get them see immunizebc.ca and the site’s flu clinic locator.