Public health officials and medical professionals advise families planning holiday gathering plans to think about being vaccinated against influenza and stay updated on other vaccinations as part of their preparations.
According to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, influenza activity is still alarmingly higher than what is expected for this time of year, with hospitalizations for the sickness rising most alarmingly among youngsters.
In comparison to flu seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic, data indicate a larger proportion of hospitalizations among people aged 10 to 16; children under five have shown the greatest totals thus far.
Children’s ICU admissions and mortality are also higher than usual, Tam reported.
At a news conference on Wednesday in Ottawa, Tam advised that it’s time to get yourself vaccinated if you have not already done so since the holidays are quickly approaching.
Increase in Flu Shots
As the holiday season approaches, Canadians who are eligible for the flu shot and are at least six months old should get one now, advised immunologist and professor Dawn Bowdish of McMaster University in Hamilton. Additionally, she added, during this time of year, infections frequently spread from children to adults, particularly older adults.
According to Bowdish, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Immunity and Aging, “The holidays are a hot spot of transmission. We all get together, we don’t have our masks on, and we have lots of intergenerational visiting.” Getting your flu vaccination this week will put you into that critical window of protection throughout the holidays.
Additionally, she added, flu vaccination can cut down on long-term health concerns like cardiac arrest and other heart issues, as well as the length of time someone is off from work due to illness and the intensity of symptoms and hospitalization risk.
According to pediatricians, getting immunized against COVID-19 and influenza lowers the risk of contracting bacterial co-infections, which are also associated with hospitalizations.
According to Dr. Roger Wong, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine at the University of British Columbia, influenza infections can be severe enough to cause respiratory difficulties and a lack of oxygen.
In an interview, Wong stated that “the flu shot has been proven to be effective and safe in saving lives.” “That’s a message that we need to get out.”
Mild influenza symptoms can include a runny nose occasionally, a sore throat, a fever, muscle aches, and general lethargy.
In Canada, more than 90% of older persons have received at least three doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, according to Wong. However, he claimed that the influenza vaccination is far superior.
The provinces and territories that responded to queries from CBC News and The Canadian Press had overall influenza immunization rates as of the most recent data that was available that were 30% or below, and lower among children. Flu vaccination rates range from roughly 50% to 70% for people 65 and older.
Wong claimed that his patients might not be aware of the severity of influenza when he asks them why they haven’t had a flu vaccination.
Wong advises using the lessons learned from the introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations to improve access to the easy administration of the flu shot for older individuals. Because many older persons living in a neighborhood are largely housebound and infrequently venture outside, he declared, This is not a little matter.
Home visits, like they were frequently done during COVID-19 when teams of nurses, physicians, and paramedics administered the vaccine to patients where they resided, could be helpful.
According to Wong, defending ourselves against COVID-19 and influenza also shields our healthcare systems from further stress.
The influenza vaccine protects for around six months, which is enough time to get patients through the respiratory virus season after the holidays.
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