As we roll into flu season in Canada, several clinics and pharmacies are gearing up for this season’s flu shot.
Recently, the province of Alberta announced flu shots will be available to the public on Oct. 15, while residents of other provinces and territories can expect shots around the same time, or later.
According to a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada to Global News, the best time for Canadians to get a flu shot is this month or in November, as the shot becomes available.
“Canadians can get their flu shot from their primary healthcare provider, their local health department or at a flu shot clinic. Many pharmacists offer the flu shot as well,” a spokesperson previously told Global News.
And while some predict this flu season to be mild compared to previous years, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Ashley Davidson reminds us it is impossible to actually pinpoint exactly what the flu season will look like.
“Last year was a bad season,” she told Global News. “There were a large number of cases and increases from previous years and it’s still important to protect ourselves, especially high-risk populations.”
A spokesperson from the pharmacy added Canadians can expect flu shots next week at their locations in New Brunswick, British Columbia and Manitoba. The rest of the country is set to have vaccinations available by the week of Oct. 22. Ontario is still to be determined.
In B.C. some people are eligible to get the flu shots for free.
Again, this all varies from province to territory, so keep an eye out to see when your local clinic or pharmacy has the vaccination available.
When is the best time to get a flu shot?
And as flu shots roll out, some experts suggest getting them sooner than later. While Davidson sticks to a motto of “better late than never,” she added ideally you want to try to achieve immunization in the fall.
“It takes your body two weeks to establish an immune response to the vaccine and to make it effective against the flu.”
In other words, the sooner you get it, the more protected you will be in the long-run — especially because flu season tends to wind down in the spring.
Davidson added while the virus may not be a severe health risk to everyone, some populations are much higher at risk. Babies (under six months), children with developing immune systems, pregnant women, seniors and anyone with a chronic health condition are most at risk.
Complications from the flu can include pneumonia, the government of Ontario noted, and flu cases cause about 3,500 deaths in Canada every year.
Other ways to protect yourself
And you may notice as we enter colder months, people around you may start feeling more sick.
Davidson said besides getting a shot, it’s important to eat a well-balanced meal, pay attention to your sleeping habits and exercise regularly.
Not only this, but washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough and staying at home when you are at risk are the best ways to avoid spreading the virus.
— with files from Leslie Young