Canada bracing for complicated flu season due to COVID-19

Canada bracing for complicated flu season due to COVID-19
WatchEven with the curve here in B.C. potentially flattened, there are worries that come fall we could see an uptick in COVID cases, during that same time of year flu season also hits. Some are worried what this could mean for our health system. Julian Kolsut reports.

Medical professionals across Canada are bracing for a more complicated flu season this fall due to COVID-19.

Flu season runs from late fall to early spring. There are concerns that if COVID-19 continues or returns along with the flu season, the health-care system may be overwhelmed.

“It is very concerning to me,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer said Wednesday.

“Once we have influenza complicating things and the other respiratory viruses we see, it’s much more challenging to detect which one is influenza, which one is RSV, which one is COVID-19. We know that influenza puts people in hospital. We know this will put people in hospital as well. So yes there is the potential of a surge come fall.”

Flu season is also the busiest time of year for Canadian hospitals. So officials are kicking their efforts to prepare into high gear.

Health Canada says they will be putting special emphasis on seniors and others at risk during their vaccination campaigns.

This year, in particular, having your flu shot will make the biggest difference for the community,” said Dr. Aaron Childs from the Victoria Division of Family Practice.

“I get my flu shot every year, my family gets our flu shots every year. I think it would be great if everyone else could do that.”

Medical professionals say the vaccine is an easy way to help ease the burden come fall and to keep yourself safe.

It consists of the influenza strains experts think will hit us, but last year they waited a bit longer before they released their guess, resulting in a large shortage.

“Previously we had a continued supply lasting us until the early spring,” said Andrea Silver, pharmacy manager of the Heart Pharmacy on Shelbourne Street.

“Last year we ran out at the end of December, so we barely had any in January. And there was lots of demand still. There was a significant shortage last year so hopefully, we don’t see that again this year but of-course nothing is guaranteed.”

But many believe this year things might be better ironed out, and that more may be willing to get protected.

“I think it has renewed people’s sense of urgency surrounding our ability to protect ourselves against respiratory illnesses like the flu,” said Silver.

“The same people who are additionally vulnerable to the complications associated with influenza [are the same who are]  from severe illness from COVID-19.”

The vaccines should be available around November.

With files from CBC News

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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