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Vaccination against seasonal flu, pandemic obliges?

The flu vaccination season has begun in the three provinces of Western Canada. Vaccines are available to everyone at doctor’s offices, clinics and pharmacies. Since COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms, public health authorities recommend vaccination for everyone, especially this year, to avoid confusion of symptoms.

Alyson Roussel – Local Journalism Initiative – CFO – West

The CEO of Alberta Health Network, Paul Denis. Credit: Network Alberta Health

According to a report on determinants of non-vaccination against seasonal influenza published on the website Statistics Canada, it is recommended that all Canadians six months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu annually. “It is doubly important to be vaccinated this year,” insists the Director General of the Alberta Health Network, Paul Denis.

He adds that the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should not hesitate to receive the injection. For his part, the medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Center and the president of RésoSanté British Columbia, Brian Conway, target all individuals.

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important that everyone who can receive [le vaccin] choose to receive it, “he says.

The benefits of getting vaccinated

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The medical director of the Vancouver Center for Infectious Diseases and the President of RésoSanté British Columbia, Brian Conway. Credit: Courtesy

Every year in Canada, Statistics Canada counts on average 3500 deaths due to flu seasonal. According to Conway, there are two reasons to get influenza vaccine. The first is to “eliminate the flu as a co-morbidity during the winter season,” he says. A comorbidity is the presence of one or more diseases in addition to a first chronic disease.

For example, in 2011, paired flu and pneumonia were the eighth leading cause of death in Canada according to Statistics Canada.

The second reason, continues Brian Conway, is to “help reduce the confusion that could exist between the flu and COVID-19 infections which may be clinically similar.”

The executive director of the French Health Network in Saskatchewan, Frédérique Beaudemont, warns. “Vaccination is an important thing anyway,” she explains, “especially for those over 60.”

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Confusion between flu and COVID-19

For the attendant at the hospital Cold Lake Alberta, Jessica Roy, it is essential to distinguish influenza from Covid-19 thanks to the vaccine, “otherwise it can worsen the wave,” she said. The clerk is also concerned about the influx of flu cases in during a pandemic emergencies.

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The attendant at the Cold Lake hospital in Alberta, Jessica Roy. Credit: Cold Lake Hospital

“Every year, without COVID-19, people come to the emergency room because they have symptoms of influenza. I’m afraid this will make matters worse. People go to the emergency room without thinking about isolating themselves, ”worries Ms. Roy.

The clerk Cold Lake already see the risk of transmission of the SARs-CoV-2, another name given by the health community to Covid-19.

“People come to the ER and say ‘I was tested for COVID-19 two days ago, I don’t have my results yet, but I still have symptoms’, thinking I’m okay fix the problem, ”she said.

What do we say to the skeptics?

Vaccines are still a source of discussion in the country as we juggle the opinions of skeptics and believers. The CEO of Alberta Health Network asks us to “listen to the experts’ reports.” But what are they saying? The Statistics Canada site explains that influenza vaccination has “sometimes limited effectiveness”, but that it “remains the best way to prevent influenza”. The seasonal flu vaccine is one that adjusts to changes on an annual basis, says Conway.

Copie de Vaccin Alyson Roussel
The experts recommend vaccination against influenza. Credit: Alyson Roussel

“The vaccine is suitable in consideration of the flu strains that are expected traffic in the province and the country,” he says.

Jessica Roy asks to trust the research.

“Even though the vaccine doesn’t always work, it’s good to get the vaccine to get things done. It’s good for the numbers and it’s good for research to improve the vaccine, “she thinks.