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Make a point of getting your annual flu shot

This year, it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot.

As part of the Atlantic bubble, Nova Scotia has been setting benchmarks for our low number of COVID-19 cases, making it one of the safest places to be in North America during the pandemic. Many other provinces in Canada are now facing a second wave and it’s hitting hard.

To keep our numbers low, we must remain proactive and vigilant in our safety precautions, and this includes getting the annual flu shot. It’s the single most effective thing people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu and its complications.

In a recent memo to physicians, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said while all Nova Scotians are encouraged to be immunized, “it’s particularly important for individuals 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, pregnant women, children six months to five years of age, individuals living with chronic disease and Indigenous people (due to high risk of complications and hospitalization).”

He noted there’s also a risk of severe illness that could arise from the co-infection of COVID-19 and the flu. “People at high risk of COVID-19-related illnesses are strongly encouraged to be immunized. It’s also important that individuals who live with or provide care to anyone in the above groups also receive the flu vaccine.”

The bottom line is, if we don’t get the flu shot and there’s an uptick in influenza, as well as a second wave of COVID-19, our medical system will be overwhelmed.

Family physicians across the province are now planning their flu shot clinics. After Thanksgiving, they’ll be offering flu shots as they have in years past. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the clinics will look a little different this year. You must wear a mask, clean your hands and social distance. Some other changes could include:

Appointments for the flu shot are booking quickly, so it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor ahead of time. The flu-shot will also be available at walk-in clinics and pharmacies.

The timeframe for receiving the flu shot is from mid-October to mid-December. Public health will receive multiple shipments of the vaccine over the coming weeks, so don’t panic if you can’t get in right away – there will be more opportunities.

For more information on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, visit Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness.