President and CEO of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Ray Racette, says if you’ve ever thought about getting vaccinated against the influenza virus, 2020 is the year to do so.

With the second wave already underway, Racette says residents who haven’t yet booked their appointments need to do so as soon as possible, and explained how he sees the winter season unfolding at the district hospital.

“The second wave of COVID-19 is playing out in the normal cold and flu season. We had about a four month period where we had a lot of influenza patients in our hospital last year, and we don’t see that changing this year.”

“The problem that we’ll face is that there’s an overlap of respiratory issues between colds, the flu and COVID-19. We are strongly encouraging everyone, in particular those over the age of 65, to get your flu vaccine this year.”

A flu shot is recommended for anyone over the age of 6 months, and it takes roughly two weeks to take effect and protect you from influenza. It helps protect those most at-risk, which include pregnant women, those with chronic health conditions, or those looking after those with high-risk conditions.

“That would take one issue off of the table if they come in with respiratory issues, if they had their flu vaccine, we would know it probably wouldn’t be that. If anyone was ever thinking of getting a flu shot, this is the year to get it,” Racette adds.

Healthcare officials in Ontario agree that it’s more important to get your flu shot this year compared to any other, as if you do contract the flu virus after getting the vaccine, you won’t get nearly as ill.

You can book an appointment to get your free flu shot at pharmacies, from your family doctor or nurse, or from the health unit. Appointments are only for one person per appointment, and will allow only one parent per child. If you are sick ahead of your appointment, you’re asked to not come and to call ahead and rebook.

The Northwestern Health Unit has confirmed that there is no shortage of the influenza vaccine in northwestern Ontario. Ontario invested an additional $70 million to purchase an additional 700,000 flu vaccines this year, to help prepare the country against the combined threat of influenza and COVID-19.

There is also a ‘high dose’ influenza vaccine for residents over the age of 65, which will also help protect you from the illness. It has not been proven to be more effective than the standard dose. Either shot will keep residents as safe as possible this winter season.

For more information:
No flu shot shortage: NWHU
Flu shots more important this year than any other, SLFNHA