With Canada’s flu season across the nook, pharmacists and well being consultants are elevating considerations about how vaccine fatigue could lead fewer Canadians to get their flu shot, particularly amid predictions this 12 months’s flu season might be the worst in years.
Solely half of Canadians say they plan to get their flu shot this 12 months, based on a brand new survey by Abacus Knowledge for the Canadian Pharmacists Affiliation.
That’s a six-point lower from the 56 per cent of Canadians surveyed about their flu shot intentions final 12 months.
“We’re really fairly involved about these findings,” mentioned Danielle Paes, chief pharmacist officer with the Canadian Pharmacists Affiliation.
Canada has solely not too long ago emerged from an uncommon summer time wave of sickness due COVID-19, which demonstrated how simply transmission of respiratory diseases can occur now that public well being measures like masking and bodily distancing have been largely scrapped, she mentioned.
This, coupled with considerations about overcrowded hospitals and well being care staffing shortages throughout Canada, means many well being practitioners are hoping as many individuals as doable will defend themselves towards influenza with a flu shot this 12 months, she added.
“In an already-strained well being care system, something that we are able to do to alleviate a few of that stress goes to go a good distance.”
Canada’s flu season has been far much less extreme than normal over the past two years, which well being consultants attribute to public well being measures that have been obligatory in most of Canada throughout the peak of the pandemic.
However this 12 months, that pattern is anticipated to reverse.
This 12 months, Australia noticed a major rise in flu circumstances which peaked sooner than normal after two years of virtually no flu circumstances, says Alyson Kelvin, a virologist on the Vaccine and Infectious Illness Group on the College of Saskatchewan.
Australia’s flu season is usually utilized by consultants to foretell what might occur in Canada, because it hits a number of months earlier.
Australia’s flu spike was additional exacerbated by a simultaneous wave of latest COVID-19 infections within the nation.
On condition that influenza infections in Canada normally spike in December, which can be the identical month that has seen new SARS-CoV-2 variants emerge over the past two years, there are worries a few twin outbreak of each COVID-19 and influenza this fall and/or winter in Canada, Kelvin mentioned.
That is particularly regarding as a result of getting sick with one in every of these viruses makes yet another inclined to changing into contaminated with the opposite.
“When you get contaminated with both influenza or SARS-CoV-2, your immune system is suppressed, so you will have decrease immunity,” she mentioned.
“Additionally having these respiratory viruses, this causes injury to your lungs, which might lead you to be extra inclined to a different respiratory virus and probably growing much more extreme illness as a result of your lungs haven’t absolutely recovered but.”
Specialists warn of nasty flu season forward
For these causes, pharmacists are hoping as many Canadians as doable will get their flu photographs this 12 months and even contemplate getting them early, Paes mentioned.
Final 12 months, solely 42 per cent of Canadians received their flu vaccine, based on the Abacus Knowledge survey.
Whether or not an increase in anti-vaccine sentiment from people against COVID-19 photographs contributed to this decrease uptake final 12 months or if it was due merely to vaccine hesitancy or fatigue isn’t recognized.
The U.S. anti-vax movement is contaminating Canada
However John Papastergiou, a pharmacist and assistant professor on the Faculty of Pharmacy of the College of Toronto, says he has been fielding questions from various shoppers who query whether or not they want a flu shot in the event that they’re already fully-vaccinated towards COVID-19.
“I feel that’s why we’re making an attempt to get the message out earlier this 12 months to have folks begin occupied with — I could have been vaccinated for COVID, however that doesn’t confer any safety towards the flu,” he mentioned.
“And whereas flu wasn’t a giant deal over the past couple of years, we predict probably it might be, so let’s get folks vaccinated as early as doable this 12 months.”
Quite a few Canadians can safely get their flu and COVID-19 boosters on the similar time, relying on their age and the place they stay, Kelvin says, which might make it extra handy for folks to get safety from each viruses.
However it’s essential for Canadians to not grow to be complacent in regards to the affect of influenza, she mentioned. As a result of though it kills far fewer folks yearly than COVID-19 — the flu usually kills an estimated 3,000 a 12 months in comparison with over 14,000 killed by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 – influenza can nonetheless trigger severe sickness and demise.
“It’s not gentle for everyone and even average for everyone and also you simply should preserve that in thoughts, even when we’re in an everyday influenza season or on this season which may have each of those respiratory viruses circulating,” Kelvin mentioned.
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