Believing in the power of basic hygiene and their immune systems to protect them from the H1N1 virus, those interviewed said they were reluctant to join long vaccine lines.
The prospect of a swine flu epidemic striking Vancouver doesn’t faze shopkeeper Ali Shahmirzadi in the least, and he probably won’t be getting his shots either as according to him, the H1N1 threat is overblown.
“I’m not worried. I’ll just wait to see what happens,” said Shahmirzadi, who manages the Dollar and Gifts store on Broadway.
“There’s a big line-up [for flu shots]. I saw it on the news, it’s four to five hours,” he said. Another reason not to get vaccinated for an illness many see as being no worse than ordinary flu.
This laid back attitude was shared by British tourist Chrissie Jones as she browsed the Dollar and Gifts store. “I’m not really worried about H1N1, I’m going back tomorrow.”
This is despite the fact that four more people with swine flu died in neighbouring Alberta on November 5th, bringing the total to 18 dead since the virus hit the province in April. H1N1 has claimed 115 Canadian lives so far.
Last week, three more British Columbians succumbed to H1N1, bringing the death toll here to 12, but provincial health officials say all but one of the victims had underlying health problems.
Walking down Broadway in Kitsilano, Vancouverite Jenya Petoukhov also wasn’t getting shots, but did say that she was washing her hands more frequently to prevent infection.
This emphasis on basic hygiene was shared by Tristan, a bearded barista at Yoka’s Coffee Shop in Kits.
“I don’t know about the recent deaths. We’ve always urged the staff to was their hands even more frequently, especially if they’re helping customers with cold symptoms,” he said.
Maybe we’re being a little more careful than normal,” said Tristan, who added that customers in his shop weren’t sharing cookies or coffees as often as normal.
Tristan and his colleagues’ hand-washing is recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), alongside disinfecting surfaces, coughing or sneezing into your arm rather than hand, and staying home until fully recovered.
According to the PHAC, the H1N1 virus emerged in April 2009 and tracking its spread shows that it is affecting more young and healthy people than the regular seasonal flu, which normally affects small children and the elderly.
Anyone pregnant or with an existing illness are at more risk of being severely affected and should seek medical help.
Most cases in Canada have so far been mild, but the PHAC warns a more severe H1N1 strain could emerge over the fall.
H1N1 symptoms include coughing, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.