The transition from fall to winter marks the start of the annual flu season, where, according to Infection Prevent and Control Canada, 5-10 per cent of adults and around 20-30 per cent of children are infected with influenza each year. In order to prevent being infected and possibly transmitting the virus to others, it is recommended by health professionals to receive a vaccination known commonly as the ‘flu shot’.
Typically, the flu shot is recommended by Canadian Public Health for everyone six months and older. People over the age of 65, those with certain health conditions, individuals living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, children under the age of five, and pregnant women are all at higher risk and it is therefore especially encouraged that these individuals are vaccinated.
Canada Public Health says that receiving a yearly flu shot is effective and important as the type of flu virus usually changes each year, meaning a new vaccine is created yearly to protect individuals from the specific strains of influenza that year. According to Marie-Ève Nadeau, who works in the communications department for the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, this year it will be especially important to be vaccinated against the flu. “Considering we have two respiratory viruses that will be present, influenza and COVID-19, it is all the more important to benefit from the flu vaccine,” she said. “The best way to protect yourself from complications of the flu is to be vaccinated.”
Nadeau was sure to add that the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 applied to influenza as well. “Social distancing, wearing a mask or face covering, frequently washing our hands, is all particularly important in the context of the second wave of COVID-19 which is currently starting and which is likely to overlap with the start of the flu season,” she said.
Flu shots are administered by a nurse or pharmacist and are typically available at several places including many local pharmacies and most doctor’s offices in the Estrie region. This year, however, considering COVID-19 protocols, everyone looking to be vaccinated must schedule an appointment.
“To book an appointment, people should check the list on the clicsanté.ca website.” said Nadeau. “We don’t want to publish a list of dates and places because we want to avoid people showing up without an appointment. They absolutely have to make an appointment.”
As of Oct. 1, 2020, clicsanté.ca will allow for individuals to book appointments to receive their flu shot. You must select ‘seasonal influenza vaccine’ as the service and enter your postal code. From there, a list of possible sites will be where you can select your desired location and book an appointment.
In order to abide by Public Health safety guidelines, the vaccination clinics have adapted several new policies. There will be a limitation to the number of people present in a clinic at one time, linear circuits and directional arrows for people to follow, triage of people exhibiting symptoms at the entrance, and a decreased waiting period after vaccination. Patients will also be required to wear a mask, show up to their appointment alone (with exceptions like caregivers, parent/child), and are asked to arrive at the exact time of their appointment.