N.B. urges people to get flu shot to lift burden on health-care system
Health-care workers are prepared for an unpredictable flu season as both COVID-19 and flu cases could overwhelm the health-care system further.
While both illnesses have similar symptoms, such as cough and fever, symptoms are preventable with the help of vaccines.
Alistair Bursey, a local pharmacist in Fredericton, said getting the flu is always a risk, but he hopes that cases will be limited with if people get their shot and continue to follow restrictions.
"You certainly wouldn't want the double whammy of having COVID and flu, or even having them one after another," said Bursey. "I think travel has increased this year, it's a reality. Vaccinated patients with COVID could certainly bring the flu here and that's a reality we are going to face this year," said Bursey.
New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell is urging people to get the flu shot this year. This will help take the strain off the province's hospitals and health-care workers, who are overrun due to several hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Unlike this time last year, when both COVID-19 and influenza cases were low in the province.
Dr. Gordon Dow, an infectious disease specialist said "we did not have a single case of proven influenza last year. Why? Because of that shield phenomena, public health measures … public health measures are incredibly effective at preventing transmission of respiratory viruses."
This is the second year in a row where the flu vaccine will be free for all New Brunswick residents. According to Dow, the high-dose influenza vaccine will be offered to those living in long-term care homes.
"It is more effective in that group, and this year they're offering it to people not only in long term care but also people older than 65. So you're going to get the Cadillac vaccine if you're 65 and older."
Pharmacies and health-care providers in New Brunswick will begin administering flu shots on Oct. 12 for an eight-to-12-week period.
On Sept. 28, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) advised that it is safe for people to get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the influenza vaccine at the same time.
Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam said, "being able to give the COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as, or within days of, other vaccines will make it easier for Canadians to get their vaccines at the right time, especially as we get closer to influenza season and the rollout of the 2021 influenza vaccine program."