As the flu season approaches and Canadians plan for a potential second wave of COVID-19, a survey conducted by Pharmasave shows that more Canadians plan to get the flu shot this fall compared to last year.
The survey of more than 7,000 people across Ontario and Atlantic Canada found that 86 per cent of people said they plan to get the flu shot this year — that’s up for 78 per cent who said they actually received the shot last year.
Pharmacist Randy Little says he’s noticed an uptick of interest in the flu shot at Barrhaven Pharmasave among his patients.
“Patient’s concerns are front of mind given that the current situation with COVID-19 that’s heightening concerns around the flu,” he said. “The whole situation with COVID-19 has really raised their concerns about getting sick in general this fall and winter, and I think that’s where a lot of it stems from.”
Among those surveyed, eight per cent of people believe the flu shot will lower their risk of contracting COVID-19, while 49 per cent say they're not sure if it does or not.
In fact, Little stresses, that is a myth — the flu shot does not help protect from contracting COVID-19.
It does, however, help ease the burden on our health system — which could become overwhelmed treating both flu patients and COVID patients — and that is why it’s important for Canadians to get the flu shot, especially this year, he says.
According to the last FluWatch report by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the country has seen “exceptionally low levels” of flu activity for weeks 30 to 34 for the 2020-2021 season.
The agency attributed the low levels to COVID public health measures that have been put in place, like social distancing and mask wearing.
And according to an article by the Wall Street Journal, COVID measures have almost wiped out the flu entirely in the southern hemisphere.
When asked if this could be Ottawa’s reality, Little was cautious to predict the same for the country and its capital.
“Even given the recent uptick in cases of COVID-19, we’d hate to see our healthcare system overburdened because we relaxed our normal flu prevention measures and see an uptick in the flu as well.”
At the end of the day, Little says it’s important that people not only continue to take the current COVID measures seriously from public health officials, but also to continue practicing flu prevention methods of the past.