"I get the flu shot every year because I really believe in prevention and health promotion."
Joyce Desjarlais is a retired Registered Nurse who now lives in Regina. She nursed in many different roles – bedside, administration, education and health policy – for over 40 years. She knows vaccines work, including the yearly influenza vaccine.
“I promote it, teasingly, to everyone I know – friends, family, you name them,” she laughed.
“I was involved in getting the H1N1 flu vaccine to northern and isolated communities, directly administering vaccines though I was in an administrative role at the time. That’s how strongly I believe in vaccine effectiveness,” she stated.
Immunizations are not only important for individuals, but also for their families and communities.
“The vaccine helps to kick-start our immune response, which is more helpful than anything else if you come into contact with the influenza virus,” she noted. “The flu shot doesn’t give you the flu; it’s a dead or very weakened virus,” she added, addressing one of the common misconceptions about flu immunization. "Because it takes a couple weeks for the antibodies which provide protection to develop I like to get the shot as early as possible."
Desjarlais grew up in Fort Qu’Appelle before attending nursing school in Regina. She has never been ill with influenza; she credits her yearly flu shot for that, as she’s been getting them for many years.
“I believe in vaccines because I believe strongly in prevention as part of a healthy lifestyle, along with healthy eating, exercise, and getting enough sleep,” she smiled. “It’s part of health care for the whole person, and it’s been part and parcel of what myself and my immediate family have done to keep ourselves healthy.”
Receiving the flu shot is even more important this year, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, as it’s vital that individuals remain as healthy as possible to help ensure the whole population stays healthy. Getting the flu shot will help reduce strain on our health care system.
“We need to do everything we can to stay as healthy as we can, given that COVID-19 is in our province,” she noted. “Getting a flu shot is an important part of that effort. The shot may not completely prevent the flu, but will certainly decrease symptoms and complications."
Joyce Desjarlais (left) receives her flu shot at a Regina clinic in October 2020.
For more information on Saskatchewan’s flu season and flu clinics, please visit