It is safe for people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot at the same time and it does not negatively impact the immune response produced by either, a British study found last week.
Britain and other northern hemisphere countries are bracing for a tough winter and the possibility of a surge in flu cases as COVID-19 restrictions are eased and social distancing measures relaxed.
Booster COVID-19 shots are being given to elderly and vulnerable people and to health workers in Britain, while U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has also promised the biggest flu vaccination program in history this year.
The study, led by the University of Bristol, found that reported side effects were usually mild to moderate in tests with three flu vaccines and either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot.
“This is a really positive step which could mean fewer appointments for those who require both vaccines,” chief investigator Rajeka Lazarus said.
“The results of this study have been presented to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for their consideration and will aid policy makers in planning the future of these important vaccination programs.”
Shots were given on the same day, in opposite arms.
One group had a COVID shot and a flu jab in a first visit, with a placebo given in a second visit, and another had a COVID-19 shot and a placebo given on the same day, followed by a flu vaccine on the second day.
The study found 97 per cent of participants said they would be willing to have two vaccines at the same appointment in the future.
The study involved 679 volunteers at 12 sites across England and Wales, and was released as a pre-print, with full results due to be published in the Lancet.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean)
Hospitals in Saskatchewan face prolonged COVID-19 crisis, modelling shows
COVID-19 patients will keep crowding hospital intensive care units (ICUs) in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan well into next year without government orders to limit public mixing, modelling data showed on Wednesday.
As the pandemic ebbed during the summer, the western farming and mining province lifted restrictions at the fastest rate in Canada along with neighbouring Alberta. Saskatchewan has since become the country’s COVID-19 hotspots, with the lowest vaccination rate among provinces, and had to hastily reimpose restrictions such as masking in indoor public places.
“I have no shame in pleading to the public, that we’ve gone so far and we just have to pull along for the next weeks and months,” said Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, who broke down with emotion during a media briefing. “It is distressing to see what is happening in our ICUs and hospitals and I’m sorry — it’s a very challenging time.”
The pandemic’s spread has forced Saskatchewan to fly some COVID-19 patients to Ontario for care and to cancel thousands of surgeries.
Saskatchewan’s modelling showed that severe cases will continue to overwhelm ICUs until March before beginning to decline, without a reduction in mixing, such as smaller gatherings, and greater access to vaccine booster shots. Reduced mixing should ideally last at least 28 days, Shahab said.
The provincial government, led by Premier Scott Moe, has declined to impose limits on private gatherings, however.
Canada’s daily case counts spiked in late summer, but have declined recently. Cases in Saskatchewan and Alberta have also started trending lower, however they have still recorded the highest rates of deaths among the 10 provinces in the past week, and the highest rates of active cases.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Gregorio)
SHA says COVID-19 protocols prevented a flu season last year – moosejawtoday.com
The Saskatchewan Health Authority says last year’s flu season was prevented thanks to masks, physical and social distancing, and increased hand washing.
Dr. Tania Diener, the COVID-19 Immunization Co-Chief at the province’s Emergency Operations Centre, says that, “We effectively didn’t have a flu season here last year.”
With restrictions slowly lifting from a population feeling the stress of isolation and public health measures, the province is uncertain about whether or not a flu season will return this winter.
Dr. Diener emphasized that, “Our hospitals are already under strain due to the number of cases of COVID-19, especially among those who are unvaccinated, due to the new Delta variant. A further influx of people sick with influenza would further strain those resources, so we’re asking everyone to get their flu vaccine again this year.”
SHA says they have enough evidence at this point to conclude that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine together is safe, and they encourage everyone able to do so to get both vaccines as soon as possible.
This year’s flu vaccine is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against four different flu variants, an improvement from last year’s, which was trivalent.
Information on this year’s flu vaccine can be found here.
Those looking to book their flu and/or COVID-19 vaccine can go to 4flu.ca.
SHA’s full press release can be found here.
Province says flu shots prevents serious illness, deaths – My Comox Valley Now
The province wants you to roll up your sleeves for another kind of vaccine as we head into flu season.
Health officials are hoping you will take their advice and get a flu shot, which is free for everyone in B.C. older than six months.
They say the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has put on the health-care system continue to make influenza immunization a priority.
“All British Columbians should get vaccinated against influenza to protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illness, to reduce the strain on our hard-working health workers and to do our part to make sure the health system continues to be there for people who need it, where they need it and when they need it,” said health minister Adrian Dix.
“I’m grateful to all of our health-care workers, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners and others for how they help people get immunized to protect themselves and those they care about.”
Seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses will be in communities alongside COVID-19 this fall and winter.
The province says it “has the potential to escalate pressures already faced by the health-care system, particularly if the effects from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza occur are the same.”
That is why vaccines are now available and the province continues to increase vaccine accessibility through many locations and vaccine providers throughout B.C.
“This year, it’s especially important for people to get vaccinated against influenza. Last year’s low influenza rates means our immunity against influenza is lower than usual,” said provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Getting your influenza vaccine this year is more important than ever to protect yourself, your community and our overstretched health-care system.”
Pharmacies around B.C. have played a key role in providing easy access to influenza vaccines since 2009.
This year, vaccines are available to pharmacies through a direct-distribution model.
This means pharmacies are able to order them directly from distributors, which the province says makes “influenza immunization easier and more flexible for people in B.C.”
“Pharmacists played a key role in helping people get immunized against COVID-19 earlier this year and administered the majority of influenza doses last year,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO, B.C. Pharmacy Association. “We’re proud of the role we continue to play in protecting our health-care system and keeping everyone safe.”
Flu vaccines have been available already for certain high-risk groups.
As they become available more broadly to the public throughout the province, you’re asked to check their health authority’s website or call their health-care provider or pharmacist to check for availability and to make an appointment.
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