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Myth-busting with a local pharmacist: adults need vaccinations too

Curtis Chafe, a pharmacist/owner with Shoppers Drug Mart in Halifax, says it’s important for adults to be vaccinated as well.
Curtis Chafe, a pharmacist/owner with Shoppers Drug Mart in Halifax, says it’s important for adults to be vaccinated as well. - Contributed

While the debate to vaccinate or not to vaccinate typically centres around parents and children, adults aren’t off the hook when it comes to vaccines.

In fact, media coverage around “anti-vaxxers” could be putting children and adults alike at risk. Recent studies show increasing anti-vaccination content in the media and on the internet is contributing to “vaccine hesitancy” – a reluctance to receive recommended vaccines because of concerns and doubts about them.[i] As a pharmacist, I am also seeing this hesitancy when I talk to customers at the pharmacy counter.

Mistrust is one of the core causes of ‘’vaccine hesitancy,” and a new Shoppers Drug Mart survey has found that one in 10 Canadian adults say their trust in vaccination has decreased with everything they’ve heard in the past year about vaccines from news stories, media, and celebrities.[ii] One-fifth of Canadians say they are vaccine hesitant and only three per cent of Canadians report having the correct number of vaccines for their age/risk group.[iii],[iv]

To pharmacists and other health professionals, this is very concerning, since vaccinations are in fact one of the best ways to protect yourself and your community against a wide variety of serious diseases. It’s more important than ever to arm yourself with accurate information about adult vaccines – and pharmacists can provide informed advice and can save you time by administering a number of vaccines right at your local pharmacy.

Misinformation is a key contributor to vaccine hesitancy. Here are some of the most common vaccination myths that you should know the facts on:

Myth 1: Vaccines result in sickening side effects. In a Health Canada survey, 37 per cent of Canadians believed a vaccine can cause the same disease it was meant to prevent.[v] In fact, vaccines cannot make you sick and you cannot contract the disease from the vaccine. Most vaccines do not contain a live virus, and in vaccines that do, the virus is severely weakened so it can trigger an immune response, but not cause any illness.[vi]

Myth 2: Vaccines are ‘one and done.’ It’s a common misconception that childhood vaccinations last a lifetime and that there’s no need for booster shots as an adult. However, protection from previous vaccinations can diminish with age, so it’s important to receive “booster” doses of some vaccines including those for tetanus and diphtheria.

Myth 3: “It’s all about me”. Some people think the decision to stay un-vaccinated only impacts themselves. But herd immunity is an important factor in containing the spread of disease to higher risk groups like babies, children, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses. By keeping up to date with vaccines, adults act as barriers to outbreaks and prevent disease from spreading to those who are at higher risk.[vii]

Vaccination is important at every stage of life. Some common vaccinations adults should consider getting include those for pneumococcal disease, shingles and HPV. Pharmacists in Nova Scotia can prescribe and administer adult vaccinations, saving you a trip to the doctor’s office. Here in Nova Scotia, pharmacists can often administer vaccines on the spot.

I encourage anyone who is uncertain about whether they are up to date on their vaccinations, or if they simply want more information about adult vaccines, to chat with their local pharmacist about this simple and very effective way to help keep you well

Curtis Chafe is a pharmacist/owner with Shoppers Drug Mart in Halifax.

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