Kitikmeot residents urged to get flu shots
“I can’t wait to be vaccinated,” Nunavut public health head says
CAMBRIDGE BAY — “It worries me that people are scared” about getting the H1N1 flu vaccine, Dr. Isaac Sobol, the top public health official in Nunavut, told people attending the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay Oct. 27.
Sobol usually speaks to reporters instead of the public.
But in Cambridge Bay Sobol delivered a personal message about the importance of receiving flu shots during the mass vaccination campaign in Nunavut.
“I can’t wait to be vaccinated,” Sobol told KIA delegates, saying he doesn’t want to see any more people fall sick from swine flu, be hospitalized and perhaps even die.
Sobol urged them to spread the word, and make sure their friends and family throughout the Kitikmeot show up for the vaccination clinics, which are due to start next week in the region.
“As a community we have to convince the people they need this vaccine,” agreed John Mannilaq of Taloyoak.
With 600 confirmed cases in Nunavut, 66 hospitalizations and one death, Sobol said it’s everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to avoid getting infected or pass on the swine flu virus.
“There’s a way to stop the spread of this in Nunavut, it’s to be vaccinated,” Sobol said — because once you’re vaccinated you won’t be able to spread the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu.
Sobol said he won’t tell people get the vaccine against swine flu if he wasn’t 100 per sure of its safety.
Sobol said he travelled to Cambridge Bay from Iqaluit — a trip that took four days due to bad weather — so he could deliver “a clear message” that this vaccine is safe for nearly everyone over the age of six months.
Some information available on the internet has sent out mixed messages about its safety, but these should be ignored, he said.
“I believe we are telling the truth,” Sobol said. “I believe in the safety of these products and I’m worried that some people may stay away from the products because they are frightened.”
Sobol said receiving H1N1 vaccine won’t make people sick unless they have an allergy to eggs, for example, and that it shouldn’t have any interaction with other drugs.
The only people who don’t need the shot that delivers the vaccine are those who have become infected with confirmed cases of swine flu already, he said.
As a simple way to prevent the spread of the flu, Sobol also repeated his advice to wash hands frequently.
But Sobol did advise against letting kids play with hand sanitizers.
That’s because they may contain up to 60 per cent alcohol and should only be used by children under adult supervision.