Are you planning on getting vaccinated against H1N1? It’s a question every Canadian must ask in the coming weeks, as health authorities roll out a massive vaccination effort in hopes of minimizing the toll this potentially deadly strain of the flu will take.
Professional drivers, by the very nature of the job, are at a high risk of encountering viruses. You cover a lot of ground and must often rely on shared showers and restroom facilities. You have plenty of face-to-face contact with shippers and other drivers from all over North America and if you do get exposed, the long hours and stressful conditions of the job can make fighting a virus more difficult.
At the same time, if a pandemic should cripple Canada, professional drivers will have a pivotal role to play in keeping supply chains moving. You’ll be needed to transport pharmaceutical supplies and vaccines to hospitals and clinics while ensuring stores continue to be stocked with everyday necessities such as food and gas.
Just last year, medical journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism released a report that indicated utility workers and truckers should be among the first to receive vaccinations in the event of a pandemic (right there along with doctors and nurses).
It seems Canadians are divided on whether or not the vaccination is necessary. Some are willing to forgo the vaccine and take their chances while others are running out to get the shot, even if it means spending three hours in a line intended only for high-risk candidates.
Personally, I have never received a flu shot before, but I just may this time once the line-ups have subsided and high-risk Canadians have been taken care of. My wife is pregnant with our first child and the last thing I want is to bring the H1N1 home to her. But that raises another concern altogether – whether the vaccination is safe for pregnant women? We’ve asked friends, family, doctors and midwives and nobody seems to know for sure. The more pregnancy-friendly version of the vaccine’s not yet readily available, and even though pregnant women fall into the ‘high-risk’ category, should they really have to stand in line three hours (usually outside) while young, healthy, able-bodied people who do not fall into the high-risk category selfishly ignore requests to wait and instead flood the clinics in droves? (Okay, there’s my rant for the day).
There are no easy answers without the benefit of hindsight and we’ll all have to decide whether to get vaccinated based on our own comfort levels with the vaccine itself as well as our ability to beat the H1N1 if need be. As professional drivers, you have another challenge – just finding a place to receive the vaccination. You’re often away from home and I’ve yet to hear of any truck stop clinics offering the shots. So what’s it going to be, Road Warriors? Are you going to get the shot or take your chances?
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies