British Columbia health experts are warning this year’s flu season could be particularly nasty and they are urging people to get their flu shot and follow the same safety measures that help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While pandemic precautions made the last two flu seasons exceptionally light, Australia, which experiences its flu season earlier in the year, had its worst season in five years, according to health officials like provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Health authorities are concerned back-to-school season, paired with relaxed public health restrictions, could spell the same fate for B.C.
“We haven’t seen influenza in the last couple of years. But people are traveling more. We’re doing more together,” Henry said during Tuesday’s COVID-19 fall vaccine booster announcement. “We look at what happened in Australia, New Zealand, we see that influenza was a fairly bad season this past year for them and it came early.”
Flu season typically starts in late October to early November but could come even sooner this year.
Dr. Henry says the flu vaccine rollout is just weeks away and she is encouraging everyone to get the shot.
B.C. health officials announce fall vaccination campaign
In the meantime, health experts like London Drugs Pharmacy and health care Innovation vice president Chris Chu encourage people to follow COVID-19 precautions.
“They call it COVID precautions, but it could help with any type of virus,” he said. “One of the things that we did do is wear a mask and what that does it protect other people when you have that on because you’re preventing, when you’re talking to other people, from projecting to other people.”
Chu recommends people book an appointment to get their flu shot through the government website.
Low COVID vaccination rates for kids in B.C. could mean issues with cold and flu season
Flu immunization would also go a long way toward taking pressure off of hospitals and staff, according to Dr. Horacio Bach, a clinical assistant professor in the division of Infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia.
“We have hospitals with big problems. We are understaffed. Many hospitals on the weekends in rural areas closed because we don’t have people there,” he said. “We don’t want to overload these hospitals with cases of flu plus COVIDF-19. We need to be alert.”
With files from Emad Agahi
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