As COVID-19 restrictions ease and businesses return to normalcy, experts are predicting a bad flu season contrary to last year.
Dr. Ran Goldman, a pediatrician, and professor in the faculty of medicine at UBC says people should prepare for more viruses to run rampant this year.
“This year as the economy opens and children are at school and we are more active, we are anticipating that there will be a more significant season with influenza”, Dr. Goldman said.
The news comes after BC health officials announced that the flu shot would be free for everyone aged six months or older.
The anticipated comeback of influenza is one of the reasons Dr. Goldman is encouraging people to get their flu shot – although it doesn’t eliminate the risk of getting influenza, it helps ensure people don’t get severely sick with the flu.
“The vaccine is preventing complications such as pneumonia and other serious and rare complications and by preventing those we are saving lives. So, if everyone is vaccinated, they are going to be protected from the flu and its complications which is especially true for older individuals as well as younger children […] and my suggestion would be for everyone to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.”
Pharmacists are now seeing more people lining up to get their flu shot – some who have never gotten immunized in the past.
Justin Dovale, a pharmacist and co-owner of Two Nice Guys pharmacy in Kelowna, says he is seeing more young people than usual coming in for a shot.
“The relative requirement for COVID-19 immunization likely has immunization at the forefront of everyone’s minds and you know for example an otherwise healthy 30 year old who didn’t necessarily fall into an eligibility group for the flu should have likely been immunized for COVID-19 and think will the flu shot just makes sense”, Dovale said.
With both COVID-19 and influenza in our communities, Dr. Goldman explains that it is difficult to differentiate between symptoms of the two viruses.
“We do know that influenza is affecting more children in that it is a quite significant illness in the first two or three days. COVID on the other hand is a bit of a slow progression of symptoms and may take longer to appear but it is very difficult to differentiate. The only way to do that is to take a test for COVID”, Dr. Goldman added.
Anyone interested in getting a flu shot can do so for free at pharmacies throughout the province.
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