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Seniors are the most significantly affected. In Canada, seniors represent 15 per cent of our population, yet account for up to 40 per cent of all influenza infections, the majority of all hospitalizations and deaths from influenza. Why? Because seniors are more likely to be frail and have chronic medical conditions that put them at high risk for influenza and its complications.
To the healthy individual, the term "flu season" may sound abstract, perhaps irrelevant. But the flu, or influenza, kills about 3,500 Canadians every year and causes about 12,200 of us to be hospitalized due to the illness itself or related complications.
I got a measles vaccine booster shot this week because I needed to be sure I couldn't bring harm to my community. And I mean that literally, as measles has now arrived in my Toronto neighbourhood. The proximity of measles also prompted me to start poking around the Toronto Star's interactive map of Immunization Exemptions in Toronto's Schools and what I found sadly didn't surprise me -- alternative schools host scary percentages of unvaccinated kids. Unfortunately, anyone in Ontario can get a vaccine exemption.
Drinking and driving is a choice -- however, it's an illegal choice because drunk drivers might kill themselves or, even worse, kill others who didn't have a say in the matter. But at least I've never heard of any drunk drivers justifying their actions by arguing that people die in car accidents not involving alcohol, too. That's the anti-vaccine rationale some parents are using to justify bringing back potentially deadly diseases and putting their children and others at risk, including infants, the elderly and people with immunodeficiencies or on chemotherapy.