It's that season again — flu and COVID needle season.
Sure - it's Autumn as well — but where's the controversy in changing colours and frosty mornings?
Health officials across the province and the country are saying both influenza and new COVID XBB variant vaccines will be ready for up-rolled sleeves by the middle of the month. The news — as it has in the past four years — will, and has, generated several avenues of reaction.
For most people, the idea of a needle to reduce or avoid illness is a quick and easy decision. When and where can I book?
The answer to that seems to be by Oct. 10 at most pharmacies and health units in the region.
For others who are coming into the needle season, the prickly question is why?
The answer to that — for many — is clear. To save lives, to reduce illness, to keep emergency rooms and health professionals available for non-preventable situations or life and death scenarios that cannot be determined by getting a single needle poke.
But in a world where groups of disenchanted — and sometimes misinformed — can rally others to hold protests, block roads and claim "Freedom-lost," it's just not that easy to tell people to roll up those sleeves and do what's best.
Some degree of fear or trepidation must be expected when foreign bodies are introduced directly into the body. Yet somehow, cigarettes, vapes, and hot-dogs all manage to fly under that radar... but vaccines? The very things made specifically to help — they continue to be the tipping point.
Science — and large health warnings — tell consumers about the health dangers of smoking, and by and large the public understands the risks. That same science, however, and the people who research it, aren't believed by some when it's about vaccines. Getting a needle can save lives. The last four years of the pandemic and its fallout have shown the world that is a true statement.
Perhaps it needs to be simplified even more; like the cigarette pack sticker "Smoking Kills," maybe each needle should have "Vaccines Save" written on their side.
No matter what is done, how many bull-horns or data sheets, experts' pleas or images of despair and upheaval, some will always oppose the norm.
It's a shame that at this time of year — a time of beauty and colour and change — that people must be begged to do what's right in order to be here next year to see the beauty again.