(img credit: liliusr3r)
When I was diagnosed with H1N1 flu, one of the requirements I had to meet to receive my permission to move from the U.S. to Canada was to take the recommended vaccine. And it is a required preventive step for most American families. Without the CDC vaccine guidelines, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.
I know that, because just last week, I was taking my 11-year-old daughter to her first flu shot in Canada.
I met our designated team of trusted pre-vaccination contacts at the Toronto Public Health’s reception. Among them was a specialist from the City of Toronto’s “Get vaccinated” campaign. He gave my daughter a full brochure explaining the vaccine’s benefits and the procedures necessary to receive it. He demonstrated how to put it on her arm and helped her apply it. My daughter demonstrated how it affected her perception of the risk of getting the flu after and told me that she saw a reduction in the flu symptoms immediately after the shot.
I also met colleagues from the Ontario ministry of health who told me that there is a significant need for vaccinating the growing number of children under 5 years of age in Ontario. There was a facility at the City of Toronto’s downtown core that had lots of kiosks set up for the in-person vaccination clinic. My local high school organized a school-wide vaccine day to address the need for vaccinating a large number of students and nurses admitted that the number of children in the hospital for flu was rising.
Not only was I ready to take my daughter to the clinic, but other parents were becoming aware of the vaccine requirement and getting their children prepared to receive the vaccine. Through the special-needs program administered by the Public Health Officer in Toronto, people who experienced reactions to the vaccine were educated about precautions they needed to take, such as using eye-gel to reduce the injection pain, staying hydrated and using an air-purifier to reduce the risk of a flare-up of the flu virus.
Finally, I met the Infectious Disease Specialist who explained why the “Get vaccinated” campaign was so important to public health. This specialist said that the vaccine served as a core part of the integrated multi-prong strategy for reducing the spread of the flu in our community. He explained that there were obvious links between H1N1 flu, poultry and other seasonal influenza viruses, as well as the connection between B-lister and human influenza viruses.
The expert emphasized the importance of educating the population about the warning signs and symptoms of flu and the importance of getting the right vaccine. With the implementation of a “Vaccinate your child” campaign, public health authorities were putting all that information together to get people to attend the clinic.
With the increasing number of deaths and hospitalizations in Canada due to the flu, this campaign is crucial. The newly elected government is taking very seriously the responsibility of protecting the health of its citizens. Therefore, I would like to commend our public health authorities in Toronto for their effective use of graphic science to help educate the public on the importance of vaccination, and to prevent potential tragedy.
James Walker is the CEO of iTriage. Twitter.com/i_triage