Flu shot in Canada: What you need to know this year

With flu season returning, Canadians are encouraged to get a flu shot every year. Experts say this year’s flu vaccine rollout could be more important than ever.

“One thing that we need to remember is that since there have been fewer flu cases in the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, … the general population (now) is more susceptible to flu,” said Dr. Jesse Papenburg , Montreal-based pediatric infectious disease specialist, told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.

“So I think this year we’re going to see a lot of flu cases and the best way to protect yourself from infection and against serious illness is to get a flu shot this fall.”

Last week, experts warned that the relatively low prevalence of flu over the past two years puts young children at higher-than-normal risk this fall and winter. They also fear that fewer anti-pandemic measures and reduced vaccination will lead to further spread of the virus.

Pandemic measures needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in just 69 laboratory-confirmed flu cases during the 2020-2021 season and only sporadic cases in 2021-2022, according to a recent update from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which advises the Public. Health Canada on the use of vaccines.

This year’s flu shots will coincide with the rollout of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine targeting Omicron strains.

According to Papenburg, both vaccines can be used together safely.

“You can get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time, or you can get it for a certain number of weeks,” he said. That’s not a problem.

“It has been shown to be safe and effective when used at the same time or at different times.”

Papenburg says this year’s flu risk is particularly high for children under 5 and two, adults over 65, pregnant women, and anyone with certain chronic conditions involving the lungs, heart, or system their immune system.

It wasn’t until Australia’s recent flu season last summer, which was billed as one of the worst in history and started earlier than usual, that Papenburg warned of a similar situation in Canada.

“I have no reason to believe that in Canada we’ll get out of it. I think we’ll (see) at least an average level of flu activity this year, if not high. than.”

With files from the Canadian Press


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