Flu to make a comeback this year, says Sudbury health unit

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Flu to make a comeback this year, says Sudbury health unit

The flu is expected to make a comeback this fall and winter, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts.Health units across northeastern Ontario

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The flu is expected to make a comeback this fall and winter, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

Health units across northeastern Ontario are preparing to offer the flu vaccine this fall. (Robert Short/CBC)

The flu is expected to make a comeback this fall and winter, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

Last year, social distancing measures and lockdowns meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 also ended the flu season early in Canada. 

“However, this year, as COVID-19 restrictions loosen, and more people are interacting in more places, the flu is expected to make a comeback this fall and winter,” said Nadine Conlon, a public health nurse with the health unit.

Like COVID-19, the influenza virus spreads through droplets that can enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. 

Conlon said the best thing people can do to protect themselves and vulnerable people — such as the elderly, young children and pregnant women — is to get vaccinated.

Because the influenza virus evolves and changes each year, the health unit recommends annual vaccinations.

This year’s vaccine, said Conlon, offers protection against four strains of the virus, and is available to anyone six months of age or older.

It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to offer protection against the flu. It’s currently possible to book appointments through family physicians, pharmacies or the health unit.

Conlon said it is difficult to determine if “COVID fatigue” will impact the influenza vaccination rates this year.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, around 42 per cent of adults in Canada got the flu vaccine in 2019/2020. Those numbers were similar to the previous season, the agency said.

“It’s important to get both the COVID 19 vaccine and the flu vaccine because it can not only reduce or prevent the spread of the virus, but it can also reduce the severity of your symptoms,” Conlon said.

She added a number of research studies have shown it is safe to receive the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines around the same time. 

Flu shots in northeastern Ontario

Health units across northeastern Ontario have started to roll out the flu shot.  Public Health Sudbury and Districts has said vaccines are already available in the community.

Algoma Public Health said those aged 65 and older, and families with children under five, can book their flu vaccines starting Oct. 13.

The Porcupine Health Unit will offer influenza immunization clinics throughout the month of November.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit said on its website the flu shot will be available soon.

The Timiskaming Health Unit has also said it will have information on 2021 flu vaccines soon.

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