Stew Slater, Metroland Media
On the same day the Perth District Health Unit (PDHU) announced it will host one last free community flu shot for the season in Stratford, medical chief of staff Dr. Laurel Moore delivered a report to the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) board of directors, strongly urging people who hadn’t yet done so to get the immunization.
“Despite our best efforts, people continue to find excuses to avoid having a flu shot,” Moore stated in her report to the board Jan. 10. “Much of their rationalization is based on ignorance and misinformation.”
Moore said all four HPHA hospitals began “facing challenges” finding enough beds to accommodate all patients in the beginning of December, and that the situation has continued right through the Christmas holidays to the present.
Dr. Heather Percival, medical site chief at Seaforth Community Hospital, confirmed in her report that the facility has been “very busy with the flu.”
“Every day, we’re struggling to find a place to put patients,” Moore noted.
Asked about the effectiveness of this year’s influenza vaccine, Moore responded it isn’t 100 per cent guaranteed to protect against the illness — which can cause symptoms ranging from a cough and sore throat, to fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue.
“But the vaccine does tend to … make the illness less intense, less likely to be fatal,” she said.
According to Moore, several long-term care homes in the area served by the HPHA are now closed to admissions due to the risk of spreading influenza. And it’s believed numerous patients now recovering in HPHA hospitals were infected by family members who were carrying the disease but were healthy enough not to need hospitalization, or did not suspect they were suffering from the flu.
“It’s my plea to the community that flu shots are not an optional thing,” she said.