Two shots are free and people are encouraged to take shots together. “It’s mainly to save time,” says a local pharmacist.
Every year, around this time, I start to sneeze, sniffle, runny nose, and bone pain.
Welcome to flu (and COVID-19, RSV) season, which isn’t the most wonderful time of the year.
After inflicting pain and misery on people living in the Southern Hemisphere for the past few months, this season’s influenza bug has finally made its way to North America, with cold temperatures forcing humans indoors and creating the perfect environment for optimal infection. health officials say.
“There are two reasons why this is flu season,” said Brad Bocek, a Clayhurst pharmacist. “First of all, influenza has just come here from other parts of the world, for example Australia. The influenza season is about August to October. That transmission is now reaching us. I understand.”
It’s also the time of year when people start gathering indoors.
“Thanksgiving just happened and tomorrow is Halloween. There’s a lot more touching and sharing right now,” he added. “As we tighten up and get closer to each other, the spread gets even bigger.”
To help reduce the spread, Boczek, along with other pharmacists across the province, will be holding the annual public flu shot on Monday, the first day that flu shots are officially available to all eligible Ontarians. An influenza awareness campaign has been launched.
Bocek said the World Health Organization is mapping different influenza viruses around the world and trying to develop a vaccine that matches what’s happening elsewhere. Even if the virus eventually emerges in North America, there are vaccines available to fight it, he says.
Pharmacists are also touting the value of receiving a COVID-19 booster and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine if you fall into a high-risk group.
Bocek said the RSV vaccine is intended for people over 65 years of age, who may have compromised health, and in some cases, very young people (6 months to 3 years) with small lung capacities, who may have compromised health. , said that those with some underlying health conditions would be eligible.
Bocek said the RSV vaccine is not available to the general public and is not covered by the Ministry of Health. The RSV vaccine costs $300 and requires a doctor’s prescription.
Both the influenza vaccine and the coronavirus vaccine are free and people are encouraged to take them together, Bocek added.
The reason has little to do with health.
“It’s mainly to save time,” Bocek said. “The pharmacy is the easiest access point to get the vaccine, so if you can go to the pharmacy and get both vaccines at the same time, it will save you time and you can get it all done at once.”
Over the past few years, the public has become more aware of influenza and coronavirus, he said. “Now more than ever, that’s the case. So the same kind of precautions. If you’re in a confined space, these are the precautions you should take. Wear a mask. If you go out in public. Please keep your hands clean and wash them thoroughly when you get home.”
Bocek added that increasing personal safety reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others, especially those at risk such as the elderly and young children.
“It’s important to be vigilant all year round, but even more so during flu season,” he said. “If you go to see your grandma in the nursing home, please wear her mask.”
Bocek said if you’re feeling a little unwell and think something might help, it’s best to visit a medical professional.
If that’s not possible, he suggests paying close attention because the symptoms are different.
“If you get RSV, you’ll notice shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing, but you might not notice it as much with the flu,” Bocek says. “Due to COVID-19, you may notice loss of taste or headaches.
“Influenza is basically a body aches and can be accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting,” he added. “These are other symptoms that are not common to the two viruses.”
To schedule your flu or coronavirus vaccine, call your local pharmacy.