If you’ve already had your flu shot this year, but you’re still experiencing chills, fever and nausea, you’re most likely not alone. This year’s flu vaccine only works half the time, according to local health officials.
Dr. Carol McConnery, a family physician and medical consultant with the Outaouais Public Health Department for the past 20 years, told the Low Down that although studies show that this year’s strain of the flu vaccine is only 50 per cent effective against influenza, getting the shot is still important.
She said the number of people who have experienced flu-like symptoms is higher than normal this year.
“What we do know is that it’s a high-activity year,” said Dr. McConnery during a phone interview with the Low Down. “There are five or six other respiratory viruses going around.”
The doctor said that while the flu may be linked to several deaths in the area, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly how many people died from its effects, as victims usually succumb to pneumonia or other respiratory failures before they expire. She said that influenza is not a declarable disease in Quebec, making it hard for researchers to tally flu deaths.
“There are 1,500 deaths in Quebec every year that are secondary to influenza,” said Dr. McConnery, adding that most victims are usually old and weak or very young. She is pleased that more and more people decide to get vaccinated ever year.
According to Pauline Mineault, a staff member at Centre de sante et de services sociaux (CSSS) des Collines, vaccination numbers are up dramatically this year with more than 2,000 people getting the needle this season.
Mineault, the senior adviser in quality risk management, said that with flu vaccines still available, the total getting should jump to 2,500.
“We did a lot of promotion this year,” said Mineault, citing easy access to the vaccine as the reason for the increased number of vaccinations. “It’s very easy to get the flu shot here. You just call and show up.”
She said 1,750 people got vaccinated for the flu last year.
VACCINES SHOT DOWN
Among the group that did not get its shots last year – nor for the past decade-plus – is the well-known Chicoine family in Wakefield.
Chiropractor Ed Chicoine and wife Gaye, a foods expert, chose to bypass vaccinating their six children to counter the flu and for every other virus from mumps to measles.
“As a chiropractor, I believe we already have in us the drive to thrive,” said Ed Chicoine, arguing that if the body gets sick, it has the tools to heal itself. “Injecting a toxic substance into a perfectly healthy baby makes no sense.”
Gaye Chicoine said that even though the kids have had the mumps and chicken pox, they recovered via healthy foods and proper care. She says now they are immunized for life.
The Chicoines argue that the reason there are fewer diseases today is better sanitation practices – not vaccines.
Even when their kids caught the flu and fevers spiked, there would be no visits to the doctor, no pills or syrups – just a slight back adjustment and a few hours later, symptoms would subside.
Ed Chicoine explained that while Western medicine looks at the body from the outside in, chiropractic care is the opposite and looks from inside the body outwards.
“There is this mental concept of believing that we need all this outside stuff to be healthy,” he says. “Why would you take Aspirin? Is your body suffering from an Aspirin deficiency? No.”
The Chicoines are also concerned about a potential link between vaccines and autism.
“Asperger’s syndrome and autism were virtually unknown before immunization,” says Ed Chicoine. “It makes you wonder.”
Dr. McConnery calls the autism link “coincidental” and argues that vaccines are safe and effective. She said the average vaccine is studied for about 10 years before it’s ever given to humans.
According to Immunize Canada, evidence based reviews done by the U.S. Institute of Medicine have rejected any causal associations between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorders in children.”
“We don’t know the causes of these diseases,” Dr. McConnery said.