1. The flu could make a comeback
If the flu last year was rather timid, it could come back in force this fall, believes Michael Curry, professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of British Columbia.
Flu viruses are back and circulating.
The relative absence of influenza viruses last season has
reduces our immunity, explains the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Bonnie Henry.
This year, it is especially important to get the influenza vaccine, she notes in a press release.
An opinion shared by Dr. Brian Conway, medical director at the Vancouver Center for Infectious Diseases:
We had very few cases last year, so there was no group immunity accumulated in the communities.
You are expected to have a potentially very severe flu season.
2. Flu and COVID-19 may not mix well
Given the relative absence of influenza cases last season, it is difficult to fully understand what a combined influenza and COVID-19 infection looks like.
Knowing that the flu leads to a reduction in the effectiveness of the immune system,
this could be particularly severe for both infections, feared Dr. Conway.
3. Avoid congestion in hospitals
Influenza is a respiratory disease that poses a serious risk to people over 65, remind health authorities, who seek to avoid overcrowding hospitals, already under pressure from COVID-19.
During the pandemic, it is important to minimize the morbidity and mortality associated with the parallel spread of influenza and COVID-19 in order to reduce the burden on the Canadian health care system, says Health Canada.
As we will be spending more time with our loved ones indoors, it is important to be fully immunized, both against COVID-19 and the flu.
British Columbia health authorities have launched influenza vaccination clinics.
Photo : (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
4. No danger of combining flu and COVID-19 vaccines
People immune to COVID-19 don’t have to worry about receiving
one more vaccine, according to health experts.
People tend to believe that vaccination strains their immune system, notes Dr. Curry of the University of British Columbia. However, the human body is already responding
to thousands, if not millions of allergens and microscopic lives every day, he argues.
All COVID-19 vaccines can be combined with another vaccine whether inactivated or live, says the BC Center for Disease Control.
In fact, 99.9% of vaccines can be combined, says Ajit Johal, medical director and pharmacist at Immunize.io, a nonprofit promoting vaccination.
Since COVID-19 and influenza have different immune responses, getting both vaccines offers better protection, he says.
There is no danger, on the contrary, there are several advantages.
If you get the flu, it may decrease the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. We want to ensure that the vaccine against COVID-19 is as effective as possible, argues Dr Conway.
The relative absence of influenza viruses last season reduced our immunity, says Chief Medical Officer of Health Bonnie Henry.
Photo: The Canadian Press / Andrew Vaughan
5. Optimizing the effectiveness of an imperfect vaccine
On the other hand, the flu shot is often
optimized depending on the strains that were dominant in the previous year.
With little data on influenza cases last season,
there is a great possibility that the vaccine used this year is not perfectly aligned with the viral strains that are circulating in the community, explains Dr. Conway.
It is important that people are vaccinated to optimize the effectiveness of a vaccine that may be imperfect., he concludes.
In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends influenza vaccination for people 6 months of age and older.