York Faculty of Health team members take it in the arm

It was a matter of simply walking the talk for faculty members in York’s School of Nursing and the administration team for York’s Faculty of Health. On Thursday, Nov. 30, the group arrived en mass to receive their flu shots in a clinic organized and operated by the School of Nursing.

 Above: Faculty members in the School of Nursing and members of the
 administration team  in the Faculty of Health show off their arms after
 receiving their flu shots at a recent immunization clinic operated by
 the School of Nursing

Ten fourth-year nursing students volunteered to staff the flu clinic under the supervision of their instructors. Two volunteer registered nurses from the Baycrest long-term care facility in Toronto acted as mentors to the students, helping them put those receiving their flu shots at ease.

“That was easy, we’ve got a professional here,” joked Harvey Skinner, dean of the Faculty of Health, as fourth-year nursing student Leighann Garry gave him the inoculation. “It is important for everyone to get a flu shot,” said Skinner. “In the Faculty of Health, we have to be healthy and walk the talk.”

Left: Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner (left) receives his flu shot from Leighann Garry

“A clinic like this provides students with important experience in  public health,” said Gina Marasco, manager of the nursing practicum coordination office and a registered nurse. “This is particularly important in the wake of a possible flu pandemic because nurses are on the front line.”

Who is at risk of getting the flu? Everyone.

Each year, on average, 25 per cent of Canadians get the flu. Most will not get seriously ill. However, the elderly, very young children (less than 2 years of age), individuals with some underlying medical conditions (for example chronic bronchitis, diabetes or chronic heart disease) and people who have trouble clearing their nose and throat of secretions due to weakness or underlying illness can become very ill from complications associated with getting the flu. The flu can also make it easier to come down with other health problems such as pneumonia and worsen symptoms of heart and lung disease. Complications from influenza can sometimes lead to death, usually in those who are older and/or frail. Very infrequently it can cause Reye’s Syndrome, an illness in children that can affect the liver and kidneys.

Every year in Canada, over 1,500 people die from the flu. Influenza infection can be more serious for individuals who are in one of the following groups:

  • anyone 65 years of age or older;
  • anyone living in long-term care facilities (nursing home, home for the aged, chronic care hospital);
  • anyone suffering from chronic heart, lung or kidney disease;
  • anyone with diabetes, cancer, immune system problems, or red blood cell problems including anemia;
  • children and teenagers (aged six months to 18 years) who have been treated with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) for long periods;
  • very young children (those less than 2 years of age);
  • individuals who have trouble clearing their nose and throat of secretions due to weakness or underlying illness.

Anyone who works or lives with someone who has any of the above conditions or is in one of the age groups mentioned should be immunized to prevent spreading the flu to individuals in these categories.

Members of the York community who still need a flu shot should visit the City of Toronto Public Health Web site or the York Region Public Health Web site for information on upcoming clinics.