HALIFAX -- Flu shots are now available across Nova Scotia at most pharmacies, family doctors, family practice nurses, nurse practitioners and clinics, in a year when the demand for the vaccine is expected to be higher than usual.

Nova Scotia health is encouraging all individuals over six months old are encouraged to get a flu shot this year.

"With flu season nearly upon us, we need to be diligent in following public health directions and in practising the core public health practises for COVID-19," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "The symptoms for influenza can be similar and we want to limit the spread of any respiratory illness in our communities. We can protect ourselves and our loved ones from influenza safely and effectively by getting our annual flu shot."

N.S. health advises that it can take up to two weeks for the vaccination to provide protection and encourages people to schedule vaccinates in the coming weeks to see the full benefit, before flu season is expected to arrive in late December to early January.

The province also advises that the process for getting the flu shot may look different this year, due to COVID-19 precautions.

Changes could include pre-screening for illness/exposure to COVID-19, making appointments rather than walking into a clinic, keeping physical distance whenever possible, requiring hand washing and mask wearing.

Nova Scotia has ordered 493,750 doses of the flu shot this year

Last month, former health minister Randy Delorey said the province had increased its flu vaccine order this year in anticipation of a higher demand.

"We do have an adequate supply on order that we be able to meet the needs of those in the province," said Delorey on September 11, who has since resigned as health minister to pursue leadership of the provincial Liberal party. "We've increased our order by between 3.5 and 4 per cent over last year which we've been on an upward trend over the last number of years.”

N.S. health says that adults over 65, children six months to five years old, pregnant women, Indigenous Peoples, those residing in crowded living situations, people of any age who are residents of long-term care facilities, and people with chronic illness are at a high risk of developing influenza-related complications