During the pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccine has been a priority for many Canadians.
But now that fall is here and winter is just around the corner, pharmacists are urging people to get a flu shot, too.
“Science is showing that getting vaccinated with both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine is safe and effective,” said Halifax pharmacist Angela MacNeil in an interview with Global News.
“And really, it is the only way, the only option we have to help protect the vulnerable in our community this fall and winter as we are beginning to fight the fourth wave of COVID.”
Almost no Canadians got the flu in the past year. What can we expect this fall?
Getting the flu shot this year is more important than ever to avoid overloading the already exhausted health care system with preventable flu hospitalizations.
“We are fighting the fourth wave of COVID right now, so the pressures of contracting coronavirus, contracting the flu, can greatly affect the health care system,” MacNeil said, adding that people who get the flu or COVID- 19 are also at increased risk for other diseases.
“It does a number on the immune system, sure, so we have a defense mechanism to try to protect ourselves from getting one or both. We have to get ahead of ourselves. “
How Health Measures Targeting COVID-19 Defeated the Flu in Canada This Season
Last year’s flu season was mild, in part due to public health restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But now that more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and those restrictions are beginning to lift, MacNeil said the risk of getting the flu may increase.
Overcoming the risks
MacNeil also said that the flu vaccine cannot infect people, just as the COVID-19 vaccine cannot give COVID-19 to people.
“It can only protect you against the flu,” he said.
“There are some cases, and we saw it with the COVID-19 vaccines, where after getting vaccinated, you might feel a little tired, a little drained for a day or two. It is usually very mild and very rare with the flu vaccine, ”he said.
“The risks and complications associated with getting the real flu far outweigh the risks of getting the real flu vaccine.”
NB health officials warn of return of cold and flu when masks are removed
While the flu vaccine does not prevent people from getting the common cold, which does not yet have a vaccine, the risks of the flu “have much higher risks associated with it.”
MacNeil said people can check with their local pharmacy to find out when flu shots will be available.
“This is really our best defense to help protect everyone in our community this fall and winter,” he said.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.