Advertisement

Important to take flu shot seriously, says Manitoba virologist as province launches campaign

Click to play video: 'Important to take flu shot seriously, says Manitoba virologist, as province launches campaign' Important to take flu shot seriously, says Manitoba virologist, as province launches campaign
Manitoba has launched its annual flu shot campaign, and a University of Manitoba virologist says the success of the flu shot — during the COVID-19 pandemic — is going to be dependent on people’s behaviours this season, and how seriously they take the flu. Will Reimer reports. – Oct 22, 2021

Manitoba has launched its annual flu shot campaign, and a University of Manitoba virologist says the success of the flu shot — during the COVID-19 pandemic — is going to be dependent on people’s behaviours this season, and how seriously they take the flu.

“I always take the vantage point that we tend to minimize influenza, unfortunately, in many ways,” Dr. Jason Kindrachuk told 680 CJOB.

“When you look at global deaths on an annual basis, and certainly the toll that it takes in North America — it’s a bad disease.

“What we’re going to see this year, I think, is going to be highly dependent on behaviours. We really showed last year that we could get things under control, which is awesome. This year it is going to depend on vaccination rate uptakes and how people respond.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: COVID-19 measures appear to have put an end to flu season in Manitoba — for now

Kindrachuk said it’s often frustrating to see the flu downplayed — or worse, to see COVID-19 passed off as “just the flu” and not treated as the dangerous virus it is.

“COVID certainly is not the flu. We’re living in a pandemic that’s killed around 5 million people globally, so we’re seeing something different than what we see traditionally with the flu. But even if this was just flu – just flu is bad.

“(Influenza) kills 500,000 people a year, or somewhere in that neigbourhood — 30-to-50 thousand in the U.S., certainly a few thousand in Canada.”

Click to play video: 'Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance' Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance
Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance – Oct 14, 2021

Kindrachuk said a lot of people who end up with severe influenza get it because they have the idea that their immune system is strong enough, and since they haven’t gotten sick yet, they don’t have to take precautions.

Story continues below advertisement

“My immune system is fine … well, how do you know that?

“I think COVID should have wisened us up a little bit. I know that there are high-risk populations, but that doesn’t mean we see zero cases in between those. Trying to predict if you’re going to get severe disease is not something that you have the capacity to do.”

Read more: Canada could be heading for flu season amid 4th wave of COVID-19, Tam says

In a statement Friday, the province said its annual influenza vaccination campaign has been redesigned and merged with the #ProtectMB website — which will be familiar to Manitobans who have received their COVID-19 shots — to encompass all vaccinations.

“Overall health and wellness has never been more important than it is right now,” said Manitoba health minister Audrey Gordon.

“I encourage all Manitobans – especially those at increased risk, their caregivers and close family and friends – to get their flu vaccine this fall.

“Getting a flu vaccine is the most effective way Manitobans can protect themselves and each other from the flu. It means fewer people getting sick, fewer people who miss work or school, and fewer people who need to be treated in a hospital.”

The province said it has already begun shipping vaccines to providers and expects the full provincial vaccine allotment to be received over the next few weeks.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Manitoba Health gearing up for seasonal flu campaign' Manitoba Health gearing up for seasonal flu campaign
Manitoba Health gearing up for seasonal flu campaign – Oct 7, 2021

Sponsored content