As doctors, sometimes we think we aren’t vulnerable to illness. And sometimes we are just too busy to look after ourselves. With this in mind, the Doctors Manitoba Physician Health and Wellness Committee decided to get our flu shots at our November meeting. We believe in being role models for our colleagues and patients. In American surveys of patients who receive the flu vaccine, physician recommendation is nearly always at the top of the list of reasons as to why they opted to get vaccinated.
Flu experts are predicting that the 2016-17 flu season will consist of four major circulating strains: the pandemic H1N1/Cali, H3N2 Hong Kong, B-Brisbane and B-Phuket. This year they are all covered in the vaccine. One concern with this year’s flu season is that the H3N2 strain affects older patients more adversely, which could lead to serious complications with higher rates of hospitalizations.
We believe it is the right thing to do for our patients. So with national vaccination rates of only 20 to 40% and healthcare worker vaccination rates of 40 to 60%, the committee decided to practice what we preach and get the flu shot as a group. Although its effectiveness may vary from year to year, flu vaccination offers protection and can save lives, particularly in vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children under five years old, seniors, and residents in long-term care or nursing homes.
Finally, we want to give a big thanks to Dr. Pravin Mehta who generously donated his time to administer the vaccine.
Gigi Osler BScMed, MD, FRCSC
Chair, Physician Health & Wellness Committee, Doctors Manitoba