They say you shouldn’t write when your frustrated…or is that bake…well, whatever. I’m frustrated and I’m taking a risk by writing so be forewarned but I need to vent.
I heard, before school started this year, that Americans were getting their flu shots at the end of August. Ok, granted, they have to pay for it, but to me, that sounded like a good time. Imagine having your kids immunized before they even start school. That would be so convenient and effective. So, school started and I began asking around to the other mothers (one of them was a doctor), at the clinics, and at the pharmacy, when we could get our flu shots here in Ottawa. No one really knew. Not even the doctors or pharmacists. I thought that was very strange but what can you do if no one knows? I’ll wait a few weeks, I thought, surely by the beginning of October someone will know something.
Nothing. No news but the “Get your flu shot” emails started flying around so I figured, there’s gotta be information soon. It’s now the middle of October and I just found a list of flu clinics that START on October 30th here in Ottawa. So I picked up the phone and called our pediatrician’s office. I asked when flu shots would be available there.
“Are your kids high risk?” She asked.
“Well, we only get enough doses for high risk patients.”
So what if I can’t make it to a clinic, can we get one from the doctor then?
“Once all the clinics are closed (middle of December), if you still don’t have one, call us and we’ll see if we have any doses left.”
So, I basically have to go to a pharmacy or a City of Ottawa clinic (and stand in a long line) to get a shot, or I don’t get one.
“This is the way it’s been distributed.”
Out of curiosity I checked The Public Health Agency of Canada’s website. They have a FluWatch calendar on which they clearly state that “Week 35 (August 28th) marks the beginning of the influenza surveillance season for 2011-12” in Canada. As of that date there were already cases of the flu in several locations in Canada, although not wide-spread by any stretch. But it is still out there. Let me do the math then. Flu season starts the end of August and we can’t get immunized until the end of October. That’s two months of virus brewing fun! Not only do we have to wait until mid flu season, in order to get immunized we have to jump through hoops (at least here in Ottawa) to get immunized. Knowing the general public, who are already wary of the effectiveness of the shot, how many do you think will go out of their way to get it? How does this protect the public? What am I missing here?
Every year we are bombarded with advertising recommending that we get the flu shot, that’s it’s very important to stop the spread of the virus. And yet it doesn’t seem to be a priority of the health agencies and doctors to get us immunized early and easily. I mean, why not have immunization clinics in schools? Why not stock all doctor’s clinics with enough doses to take care of all of their patients? (Of course the last time I tried to make an appointment with my doctor I was told I’d have to wait two months…but that’s another story). Why not have the immunizations available at drug stores at the end of August? Why not make it EASY??? What’s so hard about that?
Of course getting the flu shot is important and is particularly critical if you’re around babies, the elderly, or other people who are high risk. I’m not at all advocating not getting the shot…in case there was any misconception. I’ll be getting one and will likely trudge out to one of these clinics AND I probably won’t be happy about it – in fact, I plan not to be (oh yes, I’m holding a grudge).
Of course I’ll be there…IF I don’t get the flu first!