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Nova Scotians encouraged to get flu shots as experts predict potential resurgence

·2 min read
A pharmacist is seen administering a flu shot. Most pharmacists, family physicians and nurse practitioners will be able to administer the vaccine starting Monday.  (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBCNEWS - image credit)
A pharmacist is seen administering a flu shot. Most pharmacists, family physicians and nurse practitioners will be able to administer the vaccine starting Monday. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBCNEWS - image credit)

Doctors and pharmacists across Nova Scotia are urging people to get their flu shots this year to prevent a potential resurgence of the influenza virus.

Dr. Michelle Dow, a family physician in Clare, said last year's flu season was virtually non-existent thanks to stringent COVID-19 restrictions.

"[We're] not expecting the same thing this year," Dow told CBC Radio's Mainstreet in a recent interview. "We are seeing a little bit more viral activity right now."

On Thursday, the province announced that flu shots will be available for free to all Nova Scotians starting Monday.

Most pharmacists, family physicians and nurse practitioners will be able to administer the shot to people.

Dow said "absolutely everyone" over the age of six months should get their flu shot this year.

"These viruses can change from year to year — that's why they recommend to take the flu shot every year because they are tweaked every year," she said.

CBC
CBC

Dow said it's especially important for people who are high risk to get the vaccine, including children under five, adults over 65, people who are pregnant, those who have a chronic illness and people living in communal settings.

The province is encouraging people to get their flu shot in the coming weeks before the season begins in December.

"When I get my flu vaccine, I need to protect myself, my family, those that can't get the vaccine and ultimately the whole system here in Nova Scotia," Diane Harpell, a pharmacist in Dartmouth, told CBC's Maritime Noon on Wednesday.

Harpell, who is also the chair of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, said she expects to see more cases of the flu since people have started travelling again.

PANS
PANS

"There's a lot of people coming in and out of the province, so there's going to be bugs coming in and one of those is likely going to be the flu," she said.

Harpell said this is why flu shots will be incredibly important to prevent further strain on the health-care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've done so well through all of this to make sure that our resources are still well managed through COVID," she said.

"Making sure that we're doing what we can to protect ourselves from other very dangerous viruses like influenza will be important to make sure that we keep hospital resources open for those who truly need it."

Dow said she's hopeful remaining restrictions will accompany flu shots in protecting the health-care system and the general population.

"I'm hoping that with masks, with handwashing, with distancing, and also the big push that if you are sick or have any illness that you should not be going to work or school — people will be abiding by that and not spreading whatever viral activity there is around [and] spreading it to one another."

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