This might be the most important year to get immunized against the flu, top doctor Robert Strang says. During last year’s flu season, when Nova Scotians and much of Canada were under some form of COVID-19 lockdown, there was less activity than normal for the flu virus. But with day-to-day life closer to normal this year, and underlying crowd immunity low due to influenza’s quiet 2020, it’s likely the flu will be back in full force.
“We have to be prepared that we’re going to get a resurgence of the flu virus,” the chief medical officer said during a provincial COVID briefing.
“We had no flu activity in the country last year, and every year the flu activity helps boost people’s immunity along with the vaccination,” Strang said Tuesday, making it more important than ever that people boost their flu immunity by getting the shot.
Nearly 752,000 Nova Scotians have been double dosed with the COVID-19 vaccine to date, but that does not protect against the flu. Strang says it’s important to remember that with two viruses circulating in Nova Scotia, people are going to need both vaccine types.
“If you’re getting a COVID vaccine at a pharmacy, ask them if you can get your flu shot at the same time,” Strang suggested.
Nova Scotians can be vaccinated against the flu for free at pharmacies province-wide beginning Monday, Oct 25. Because the flu shot takes two weeks to see its full benefit, it’s ideal for people to get vaccinated in the fall, before the flu season takes hold—which is typically between the end of December and early January. The province has ordered 495,200 doses of flu shot this year.
While flu vaccines are beneficial for all, Strang highlighted that pregnant people are especially at risk and require heightened immunity. “Influenza and COVID infections significantly increase the risk of severe illness and complications, including possible death to both you and your baby,” he said. “Both vaccines are strongly recommended, so please get both.”