Flu vaccine access a luxury for some

Greater Victoria residents have luxury of choice, unlike many in disease-stricken regions

A couple of weeks ago, I was considering whether to get this year’s flu shot, when contracting the disease made the question moot. It was a ghastly experience that led to a painful throat infection. I learned my lesson and next year I’m getting vaccinated.

Still, I’m one of the lucky ones, as I have access to the flu vaccine. I was very ill, with a possibility of developing pneumonia. I’ve had it before. If flu feels bad, pneumonia is beyond awful, a terrible disease and global killer. Last year alone, pneumonia killed more than 3,000 kids every day.

While vaccines exist to prevent pneumonia and other common diseases, the poorest parts of the world don’t have access.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations is the world’s provider of vaccines in poor countries and is on track to immunize an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015, preventing nearly four million deaths in the process.

Canada has long supported GAVI, which is now running out of funding. It’s crucial we step up and pay our fair share. My recent illness showed me how vulnerable we are to disease, and how privileged we are in the West with our easy access to vaccines.

I put down my not getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity to foolishness and complacency. But continued funding of GAVI can ensure those who need vaccines have access to them.

I doubt they will make the same choice I made.

Nathaniel Poole

Victoria