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Doctor makes presentation to public-health staff to combat disinformation on vaccines
HALIFAX -- Each year, thousands of Canadians die from flu-related illness, and even more are hospitalized.
Health Canada says it's a vaccine-preventable disease, but health professionals say there's still a great deal of misinformation surrounding the flu shot.
"People say, 'I don't need a flu shot because I take my vitamins, I run, I eat well, I'm healthy,'" said Dr. Noni MacDonald. "When you get influenza, it's like a truck hit you. You are really sick. We also know influenza in older people, a week after you get influenza, increased rates in stroke, increased rates of heart attacks."
MacDonald says in the era of Dr. Google, or turning to the internet to access health information, it's important for medical professionals to work to debunk immunization myths.
On Tuesday, she gave a presentation to public health employees on how to combat information spread by science deniers.
"How the patient hears information from a health-care professional and what they hear really affects and can influence their decision to accept immunization or other health-care intervention treatment that they need," MacDonald says.
Cindy Shan, the regional medical officer of health for Halifax, Eastern Shore, and West Hants, says "there's been an increase in the number of patients who come in with concerns related to vaccinations."
MacDonald tells frontline staff the best way to combat vaccination misinformation is to use evidence-based guidance and to make the public aware of how people can skew science.
"It's concerning because really, vaccines are important for individual protection against a number of communicable diseases, but also it's important for community protection," Shen said. "So, if everyone gets vaccinated, then we are better at preventing the spread of infectious diseases."
The goal of Tuesday's presentation was to arm frontline public health staff with tactics they can use to debunk myths around vaccinations and ensure everyone has access to science-based information.