COVID-19 is still the biggest concern, but health experts are warning about the upcoming influenza season.
With loosening restrictions, experts say this year’s season could be bigger than last year and are now asking the public to get the flu shot.
“COVID-19 vaccine is specifically for COVID-19. It doesn’t protect you from any other illness. So, we do recommend getting your flu vaccine,” said Kim Myers, a pharmacist at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Victoria.
“It is effective. And when people are on the fence and unsure, I think we have to think about the big picture. It’s not just about you. It’s about the community that you live in, and protecting your elderly parents or grandparents and young children as well,” she continued.
And some in the city agree, saying they wouldn’t skip out on getting the shot.
“I get one every year because the one year I skipped the vaccine, for some reason, I don’t know what happened, I ended up getting the flu and then it morphed into pneumonia and I was off work for two whole weeks,” said Richard Ware.
Jillian Wall echoes Ware’s sentiment, saying that “the flu can be very dangerous and so I think that any sort of protection that’s available, we should take.”
“Just like any vaccine, it lowers your risk and everybody’s risk of passing things on and contracting the flu,” added Tamya Des Coteau.
Myers explained that the pandemic may actually be indirectly encouraging people to get their flu shot.
“It’s definitely been increased awareness, especially with COVID, people are aware of getting vaccines and protecting, not only themselves, but the people around them, so definitely, I think the uptake has been really good,” she said.
Flu cases in Canada were very low last year and Myers expects that to be the case this year too if people get the flu shot.
Public health officials are urging people to be vigilant through the fall and winter as there are concerns of a ‘twindemic’ of flu and COVID-19 cases in other parts of the world.
The flu shot is available starting in October at public health clinics, some doctor’s offices and most local pharmacies.