One the most dreadful times of the year is upon us – cold and flu seasons – fall and winter- amid a global pandemic. Due to the crazy times of COVID-19 pandemic we are in, people may already be actively avoiding those exhibiting any symptoms of a flu-related illness. It is always appropriate to be too safe. Even the simplest measures can help prevent the spread of the flu. During this season, stretching from fall to winter, millions of people are affected each year ranging in mild to severe cases, and many causalities. As COVID-19 cases climb in many countries globally and many provinces in Canada, doctors say there is more interest in the flu shot this year — and there should be. But they're warning patients to get the shot sooner rather than later. Health Canada said provinces and territories are responsible for deciding how much vaccine to purchase for their individual immunization programs. This year, they've ordered nearly 13.8 million doses, 2.6 million doses (23 %) more than by this time in 2019.
Importance of getting flu shot this year
Doctors and health authorities say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever to get the flu shot because:
A. Too many people with flu and flu-related complications can put pressure on the health system, which will likely already be under strain due to COVID-19. A group of emergency physicians is urging Canadians to get their flu shots as a second wave of COVID-19 combined with flu could overwhelm the health-care system. Infectious disease specialists also say getting the flu shot will help take the pressure off the medical system if coronavirus is resurgent.
B. A high vaccination rate can reduce the demand for COVID-19 testing since the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms. Many testing centres have recently seen long lines and wait times due to a surge in demand.
C. Getting the flu — as with other pre-existing lung diseases — can increase the risk of COVID-19 complications in susceptible people, who may wind up in hospital and die from COVID as per the researchers.
D. Seniors and people with compromised immune systems and with chronic medical conditions are the populations at higher risk of flu and related complications hence, this year, vaccinating them is very important.
E. Health authorities are urging Canadians to get a flu shot this year to avoid the specter of a "twindemic," with increased chances of co-infections where the health-care system is overwhelmed by COVID-19 and influenza. Because symptoms are similar and diagnostics aren't fast, people can best lessen their risks with flu shot plus social distancing and mask-wearing this fall and winter.
F. Many people most vulnerable to serious complications of COVID-19, such as older adults and those with chronic health conditions, are also at risk for complications from the flu, including myocarditis, pneumonia, heart attacks and strokes.
2020-2021 FLU VACCINE- CRITICAL POINTS ABOUT FLU SHOT THIS YEAR
This season's flu shot will protect you against:
The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. This means that the flu shot will not protect you against COVID-19.
Everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot
The flu shot is your best defense against the flu. It can save lives by:
protecting you, in case you are exposed to the virus
preventing you from getting very sick
protecting people close to you as you are less likely to spread the virus
those who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu
reducing additional burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic
reduce your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, which could lead to more serious complications.
The flu shot is effective and safe—Note that
you cannot get the flu from the flu shot
most people have no side effects from the flu shot
severe reactions are very rare.
The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses, as well as the health and age of the person getting the flu shot. The circulating viruses in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.
It is also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. Even when there is a less-than-ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining two or three viruses. If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.
Getting the flu shot is one of the best and effective way to protect against the flu and flu-related complications. However, it takes two weeks just to get an immune response after the shot. Hence, what matters more is timely vaccination for the effective immunization.
Is there increased demand for the shot this year?
There appears to be increased demand for the shot this year as it has been found out by some online survey of Canadians. Many doctors also said they're getting more inquiries from patients than usual. Since people are cautious and concerned, not only seniors or adults but, parents also appear more eager to vaccinate their children this year.
When to avoid the flu shot
You should avoid getting your flu shot if you:
have serious allergies (anaphylactic reactions) to any ingredient in the vaccine, except eggs.
(Please note that as per Health Canada, egg allergy is not a contraindication for flu shot as there is a low risk of adverse events related to trace amounts of ovalbumin allowed in flu vaccines manufactured using eggs. Most flu shots and the nasal spray flu vaccine are made using egg-based technology. So, they may contain a small amount of egg proteins like ovalbumin. However, as per the studies examining the use of the nasal spray vaccine and flu shots in egg-allergic and non-egg-allergic patients -severe allergic reactions in people with egg allergies are unlikely.) Your health care provider can guide you about ingredients present in the vaccine and safety.
have experienced a serious allergic reaction from a previous flu shot
developed GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) within 6 weeks of a previous flu shot
You should wait to get your flu shot if you have:
a severe acute illness with or without fever, in which case you should usually wait until the symptoms subside before getting the shot. (Note that people with a minor illness with or without a fever (for example, a cold) can still get the flu shot).
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