Overview

As Canadians continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is yet another virus season right around the corner: influenza.

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has become a focus in our day to day lives, however, flu season will soon be starting. While scientists and researchers say that getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever, there is worry that the importance of preparing for this year's flu season has been somewhat overshadowed by the concerns surrounding COVID-19.

So, why is it so important to get a flu shot during this pandemic? And how should Canadians prepare for this year's flu season?

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-and-the-Flu-Shot-What-You-Need-to-Know

COVID-19 vs. Flu

One common myth around the COVID-19 pandemic is that a person can only get sick from either COVID-19 or the flu, but not both. In fact, it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 and the flu, and this is something you want to avoid.

COVID-19 is similar in many ways to the flu in that both of them are contagious respiratory illnesses, meaning they affect your lungs and breathing, and can be spread to others. Both COVID-19 and the flu can spread from person to person through droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. In some cases, the viruses can be spread when a person touches an infected surface (e.g., doorknobs, countertops, telephones) and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes.

While the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, both can cause you to experience fever, cough, body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea (especially in children).

Although data on COVID-19 is more limited compared to that of the flu, it appears that symptoms like shortness of breath and loss of smell or taste are more commonly associated with COVID-19.

Because of these similarities, it can be hard to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 when symptoms appear.

If you start to develop symptoms, follow the precautions recommended for COVID-19.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-and-the-Flu-Shot-What-You-Need-to-Know

What kind of flu season are we expecting this year, and when does it begin?

Flu season in Canada typically starts in October, but it can vary from season to season.

Canadians can predict the severity of their flu season based on what has recently happened during the winter season in countries in the southern hemisphere (e.g., Australia). In 2020, we saw a lighter flu season than usual. This could be the result of the precautions that people have been taking to prevent COVID-19. Measures like ensuring social distancing, maintaining good hand hygiene, and wearing a mask that we've adopted to prevent COVID-19 can also help prevent the flu.

Predictions based on other countries are not always 100% accurate, but Canadians are again hoping for a lighter flu season as we don't want to be fighting off two viral illnesses at the same time.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-and-the-Flu-Shot-What-You-Need-to-Know

Why do I need a flu shot if it doesn't protect me from COVID-19?

While the flu shot won't protect you from COVID-19, it's important to protect yourself from influenza to avoid what's been called a "twindemic" (overlapping pandemics of both COVID-19 and influenza) for several reasons:

  • COVID-19 has caused an enormous strain on the health care system across the nation. During a normal winter season, the flu results in a significant number of hospitalisations. It's critical that people do what they can to help keep hospitals and other health care facilities from getting overwhelmed. For this reason, getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year for everyone 6 months and older.
  • Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine does not protect you against the flu, as these viruses are different. COVID-19 vaccines have only been found to offer protection from COVID-19-related disease and its complications.  
  • The flu shot not only protects you from getting the flu, but it also protects people around you. This is especially important if you have a family member who is at high risk for severe illness from both viral infections (e.g., those with chronic health conditions, seniors, young children, pregnant women).
  • One study found that having COVID-19 and influenza at the same time may cause individuals to feel sicker and have more complications than having either infection on their own.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-and-the-Flu-Shot-What-You-Need-to-Know

How long should I wait to get a flu shot after my COVID-19 vaccine?

A yearly flu shot is still important during the pandemic. Here is what we know so far about the timing of your influenza and COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Currently, COVID-19 vaccines should not be given at the same time as your flu shot, and should be spaced apart.
  • While research is ongoing about the timing of vaccines, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) advises that after a COVID-19 vaccine, you should hold off on getting your flu shot for 4 weeks (28 days). When you receive a flu shot, you should wait 2 weeks (14 days) before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • There are situations where the minimum waiting time between vaccines could be shorter. Speak to your pharmacist to learn more about this.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-and-the-Flu-Shot-What-You-Need-to-Know

How is Canada preparing for the upcoming flu season?

The flu vaccine is expected to be available for the public in most pharmacies and clinics starting in mid-October.

Additional safety measures will continue to be implemented this year. Health care providers (e.g., pharmacists, nurses, physicians) will be wearing personal protective equipment and requiring people to wear a mask while they get their flu vaccine.

People will also be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before getting a flu shot, and they will have to maintain physical distancing from others when they arrive.

Further precautions may be in place to ensure safe vaccine administration. These can include extended clinic hours to avoid large crowds, drive-through clinics or outdoor clinics, and encouraging workplaces to have their own on-site immunization programs.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-and-the-Flu-Shot-What-You-Need-to-Know