The first data, provided by the Department of Health, shows that 66,488 people had received the flu shot compared to 110,090 at the same time in 2021.
“Influenza vaccine administration began approximately a week earlier in 2021 than this year, and there have been some changes to the data reporting process for pharmacies and primary care providers that may be causing a slight delay in the reporting process. reports,” according to a statement from the department.
Fewer protections in place
Epidemiologist Susanne Gulliver said vaccination is now one of the only tools people have left in the absence of other mandatory public health measures.
“We had a physical barrier to transmission of influenza and I think a lot of people have forgotten what changed this year,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
“So it’s even more important to get your flu shot and also get your COVID booster because we no longer have a physical barrier that stops the transmission of these respiratory viruses.”
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He said that in the last two years there has been a lot of vigilance around hygiene, handwashing, physical distancing, wearing masks, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
The flu has been around for the last two years, Gulliver explained, but we were developing more than one defense against it and many of them disappeared, including the masking.
“The masking is very important,” he said. “It is not specific to a variant or even specific to a respiratory disease. It’s that physical barrier that protects him from getting it, but also keeps it from spreading if he’s sick.”
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In Nova Scotia, the health department is dealing with several viruses in addition to COVID-19. Influenza A and B, adenovirus, enterovirus/rhinovirus, parainfluenza, and respiratory syncytial virus are reported.
being trending now
He said in a statement that data on flu vaccine uptake is not available at this time, but said Nova Scotians should get vaccinated in the coming weeks to see the full benefit.
“We encourage everyone to continue their health habits learned and adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
The science behind both vaccines
Gulliver also said that there is nothing dangerous about receiving the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at or around the same time.
He explained that vaccines have different mechanisms of action.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. It acts as an instruction set for the spike proteins that the virus has. Those instructions tell the body how to detect and destroy them.
Meanwhile, the flu vaccine, he said, is a “dead vaccine.” It sends small fragments of the virus that introduce it into the body but not enough to reproduce.
“So they’re different mechanisms of action, so different parts of your immune system are going to respond,” Gulliver said.
The Nova Scotia Pharmacists Association said that while they don’t have firm data on the number of vaccinations, an impact is being felt.
“We are seeing it all around us. We know we are seeing increased demand for children’s cough and cold products,” Allison Bodnar, executive director of the NSPA, said Tuesday. “We are seeing a significant increase in antibiotic prescriptions, not for viral issues but for issues related to them.”
Meanwhile, the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association said it is beginning its vaccination campaign.
Chief Executive Officer Jake Reid said he is hearing anecdotally that people are waiting until they are eligible for their next COVID-19 booster.
“We understand that people may be experiencing some vaccine fatigue, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment to get a flu shot,” he said in a statement.
Appointments for both COVID-19 and the flu can be accessed online.
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