COLUMN: Protecting our community this flu season

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By Krunal Patel
Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist/Owner

Between COVID-19 and the flu, the past two years have sparked important conversations on how we can best protect our community from illness, particularly our most vulnerable community members.

With winter fast approaching, flu season is already here. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), we’ve entered an influenza epidemic, meaning it is especially important we take precautions to keep ourselves and our community healthy.

As your local pharmacist, I’ve put together some top tips on how we can protect our community against the flu and COVID-19 this winter.

  • Sleeves up! One of the best (and easiest) ways to protect yourself and your loved ones this season is by getting your annual flu shot. The vaccine helps to boost your immunity and can prevent worsening of symptoms and complications from the flu. In years where the flu shot has been well matched, 70-90 per cent of flu cases have been averted through vaccination.
    Influenza immunity changes from year to year, so even if you got the flu shot last year, it is important to get vaccinated again for continued protection.
  • Consider getting your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Did you know you can get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine or booster in the same sitting? As per current NACI guidelines, it is safe to get both vaccines during one appointment, making it convenient to double down and protect yourself against both viruses at the same time.
    According to Health Canada, you must stay up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, even if you’ve been previously infected with COVID-19. If your last dose was more than nine months ago, you are no longer considered adequately vaccinated. For those 18 years and older, ask your pharmacist about the Bivalent booster dose, available at your local pharmacy via appointment or walk-in.
  • Wear a mask. Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth is a simple yet effective way to block the spread of germs, particularly in public and enclosed spaces. If you are looking for extra protection, give yourself peace of mind and wear your mask this flu season.

Visit your local pharmacy to get your flu shot and your COVID-19 vaccine – it’s our best shot at protecting our communities this season.

  • Krunal Patel is a pharmacist and owner of your local Shoppers Drug Mart in Chatham.

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