Dispelling Common Myths About H1N1 and the Vaccine

first_imgWhile many Nova Scotians have already been immunized against H1N1, the province is striving to get as many people as possible vaccinated and protected this flu season. There is certainly no shortage of available information on H1N1, and while much of it is from credible Public Health organizations, some of it comes from unreliable sources. This has created some mixed messages that may have people wondering whether or not they should bother getting immunized. I’d like to dispel some common myths about H1N1 and the vaccine. Myth 1: H1N1 is on the decline, so I don’t need to get vaccinated. While we are seeing declining H1N1 activity across the province, H1N1 is still being reported in communities. There is also a very real possibility of another peak in H1N1 activity during the winter season. Getting immunized will not only protect you and your family, it will slow the spread of the virus, and will help prevent a third wave of H1N1 in the province. Myth 2: I’m a healthy person, and never get sick, so I don’t need to be immunized. While regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, not smoking and limited use of alcohol will help in maintaining a healthy and strong immune system, healthy living alone will not prevent catching H1N1. Everyone is at some risk of getting H1N1. We are seeing otherwise healthy people come down with severe and debilitating illness from H1N1, and some have died. Why gamble with your health? Be safe and get immunized. Myth 3: I’ll get the flu if I get vaccinated. While some people may get mild joint aches and tiredness for a day or two after getting the H1N1 vaccine, the vaccine does not contain live viruses and cannot give a person influenza infection. If a person develops cold or flu symptoms after getting immunized they likely have either been infected with another type of virus (H1N1 vaccine only protects against H1N1) or they may have been infected with H1N1 before they were able to get good protection from the vaccine. It takes about 10 days after receiving the vaccine for the body to develop full immunity. Myth 4: The vaccine isn’t safe, and hasn’t had enough testing. The H1N1 vaccine is safe. Like any other vaccine, research into the safety of H1N1 vaccine was done before it was used. Health Canada reviewed all available test results, including international data, to ensure the vaccine was safe and effective before it was licensed for use in Canada. In addition, Canada is part of a strong system to detect evidence of unexpected or severe adverse effects from H1N1 vaccine as it is used across the world. Millions of doses of H1N1 vaccine have now been given in numerous countries with no serious safety concerns being identified. Myth 5: Gargling with salt water, or cleaning my nose, will protect me from getting H1N1. While gargling with warm salt water has merit in alleviating symptoms such as a sore throat, it does not prevent H1N1. Likewise, using products such as a “neti pot” are effective at clearing sinuses, but again, it will not protect people from getting H1N1. The best way to protect yourself from H1N1 is by getting vaccinated. Along with immunization, there are other tried-and-true preventative measures that can be practiced to keep healthy, such as washing hands often with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. People can help prevent the spread of the virus, by coughing or sneezing into their sleeve, stay home if feeling sick, and regularly disinfecting common surfaces. Staying informed about H1N1 will help keep everyone healthy this flu season. Visit www.gov.ns.ca/h1n1 for current information on H1N1. People can also join the Facebook and Twitter pages at gov.ns.ca/facebook or twitter.com/nsgov . For health-related questions and concerns, please call HealthLink 811. -30-last_img

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