By Patrick Szpak
Melissa Matton wants Rye students to shoot-up…with a flu inoculation that is.
Matton is the Health Promotion Nurse at Ryerson’s Health Centre. She is worried many students are choosing to forgo the flu shot for the wrong reasons, after a survey showed students were not planning to take the precaution.
“We did see that the general attitude towards flu shots is not very positive.”
Matton hopes more students will choose to get the shot this year.
She said many of the roughly 1,000 students who go to Ryerson’s Health Centre to get the flu shot have to because they are in a program like nursing.
Matton says students may be choosing not to get inoculated for the wrong reasons.
“A lot of people will say ‘I get the flu shot and I get sick anyway.’ Nine times out of 10 they get a cold and they don’t know the difference.”
She says the flu is far worse than the typical winter cold, with symptoms that can lay a sick person up for two weeks with aching muscles, high fevers, headaches and respiratory problems.
Matton said there is little comparison in the severity of a winter cold and the flu.
Matton said that the time away from school — where the sick will do little more than suffer at home in bed – is why many students should seriously consider getting the shot. She says healthy adults almost never die from the flu, but that does not mean it cannot have a serious impact on a student’s life.
“If you are off for two weeks of school you might be toast, you might have missed stuff you can’t catch up on.”
Matton says the inoculation — delivered by a poke from a very small needle — is 70 to 90 per cent effective in protecting people from the flu, and those that do get sick with the inoculation won’t suffer for as long or as severely.
There are reasons for not getting jabbed with the needle, but Matton says they are outweighed by the benefits of the shot.
She said that the recent connection of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing condition that mimics polio, to the flu shot is important, but stressed that the chance of dying from influenza is much higher than getting Guillain-Barré syndrome.
“It’s once in a blue moon.”
According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, one in a million people will develop Guillain-Barré syndrome from the flu shot, with most recovering. In comparison, people are 70 times more likely to die from the flu.
The Ryerson Health Centre will be running a free flu clinics from Nov. 21 to Dec. 15.
Students interested in booking an appointment at the health centre’s flu clinic should phone 416-979-5070.