Mak­ing the right wardrobe choice should be part of get­ting your flu shot

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

WE’VE ROLLED INTO NOVEM­BER. It’s colder, damper and darker. It’s also the start of flu sea­son. Ex­perts would rec­om­mend get­ting a flu shot. Much less ob­vi­ously – the cold and damp thing – they’d sug­gest wear­ing a short-sleeved shirt when do­ing so.

The coun­ter­in­tu­itive part of that has to do with giv­ing the per­son do­ing the in­jec­tion a bet­ter shot at find­ing the right spot for the nee­dle. A mis­placed in­jec­tion can make the ex­pe­ri­ence more painful and, on rare oc­ca­sions, more in­ju­ri­ous, says Kelly Grindrod is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Water­loo’s School of Phar­macy and School of Pub­lic Health.

The best way to pre­vent any ad­verse ef­fects from the vac­ci­na­tion can be fairly sim­ply: avoid wear­ing long sleeves.

“If you’re get­ting a flu shot and the nee­dle is in­jected too high in the arm, and it goes into the shoul­der, it causes shoul­der in­jury,” said Grindrod. “One thing that causes prob­lems is when you wear a longsleeve shirt that you have to pull down over your shoul­der.

“When you pull the neck down over your shoul­der, it doesn’t give enough space. Some­times that’s what can make it that the nee­dle goes into the shoul­der in­stead of the arm. Peo­ple should wear T-shirts or sleeve­less shirts for their flu shot.”

Get­ting the in­jec­tion on tar­get helps avoid what is known as shoul­der in­jury re­lated to vac­ci­na­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion, or SIRVA for short. It oc­curs when the vac­cine is in­jected into the mus­cu­loskele­tal struc­tures of the shoul­der –lig­a­ments or ten­dons, for ex­am­ple – in­stead of the arm mus­cle.

The first case of SIRVA was re­ported in 2006. While some sore­ness or bruis­ing is typ­i­cal af­ter re­ceiv­ing the vac­cine, the dif­fer­ence is that the pain does not get bet­ter – it keeps get­ting worse.

“Some things to watch out for is shoul­der pain, there might have a de­creased range of mo­tion,” said Grindrod. “And it starts within two days of get­ting the pain; you start to no­tice those symp­toms. Peo­ple will get a sore arm af­ter get­ting the vac­cine, that’s nor­mal. The key dif­fer­ence is that it doesn’t get bet­ter.”

Symp­toms will start to show within 48 hours of get­ting the vac­cine. SIRVA is typ­i­cally treated with anti-in­flam­ma­tory medi-

cation, pain re­liev­ers, and in some cases phys­i­cal ther­apy ex­er­cises.

Grindrod em­pha­sized that these cases are rel­a­tively rare and that it should not de­ter some­one from get­ting the flu shot.

“This is not com­mon; it’s quite rare. We don’t ex­pect it to hap­pen. But in the very rare case that it does, it’s just help­ful to rec­og­nize it so that they can see their physi­cians ear­lier and get treat­ment,” she said.

“There an in­creas­ing num­ber of case re­ports in lit­er­a­ture, but the num­ber is prob­a­bly go­ing up be­cause more peo­ple are aware of it.”

It also de­creases the ef­fec­tive­ness of the vac­cine, since it is sup­posed to be ab­sorbed into the mus­cle.

We are cur­rently in the midst of flu sea­son, run­ning from late fall to early spring. The flu causes ap­prox­i­mately 3,500 deaths and al­most 12,200 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in Canada each year. The vac­ci­na­tion is the best de­fence against the flu, ex­perts say.

Flu shots are avail­able free of charge at the doc­tor’s of­fice or from your lo­cal phar­ma­cist.

“Phar­ma­cists of­fer the pub­lic a con­ve­nient and ac­ces­si­ble op­tion for re­ceiv­ing a num­ber of vac­ci­na­tions, in­clud­ing against in­fluenza,” said Sher­i­lyn Houle, a phar­ma­cist and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the UW School of Phar­macy, in a re­lease.

“This con­ve­nience may be espe­cially ad­van­ta­geous for work­ing adults who can be im­mu­nized without hav­ing to book an ap­point­ment, and across longer op­er­at­ing hours than many other im­mu­niza­tion providers.”

Other ways to pre­vent get­ting and spread­ing flu in­clude clean­ing and dis­in­fect­ing sur­faces and shared items, wash­ing your hands fre­quently, and stay­ing home when sick.

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