The British Columbia government is continuing to fight COVID-19 by first attacking the flu.
The province announced on Wednesday an enhanced fall flu immunization campaign through the purchase of 1,965,000 doses of the flu vaccine — an extra 450,000 doses to what was already planned.
Health officials have said they’re worried that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a fall flu season, will lead to an overwhelming strain the health-care system.
“We learned when we were watching what was happening in the southern hemisphere, in New Zealand and Australia, that there was a high demand for the vaccine. And they have had a mild season because of a high use of the vaccine,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
“We know it works well and is a way to keep people healthy and helps reduce those having symptoms that could be confused with COVID.”
The province will not make the flu shot mandatory. Henry said the province does not have any mandatory vaccines.
A Fluzone-high dose flu vaccine will be available to all long-term care and assisted living facilities. The government also plans to hire up to 5,000 new staff across the long-term care system.
Public health is still looking at how to distribute the doses, with options such as health clinics, doctor’s offices, and possibly workplaces.
Distributing the vaccine at schools will be challenging because parents will not be able to be there with their children.
Anyone over the age of six months is eligible for immunization.
The province has set aside about $784 million to implement the plan, which includes building out COVID-19 testing capacity for fall/winter to approximately 20,000 tests per day in a bid to help determine whether someone has COVID or the flu.
Surge capacity will also be put in effect at key hospitals, as well as a staged approach to regionally managing surges in demand.
“For the fall/winter we want to maintain normal routine access to health care as much as possible while also responding effectively to managing COVID-19,” a presentation from health officials reads.
“The B.C. health system has adequate physical capacity to meet demand with the backstop of knowing that we can successfully implement more extreme measures linked to delayed surgeries or admissions if required.”View link »