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Your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist has a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of health topics. If you have a question about your health or medication, chances are, your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist knows the answer.

With COVID-19 still here, should I get a flu shot?

Hi. I am Caroline Colozza, your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist. Welcome to Ask the Pharmacist.

Here is today’s question:

With COVID-19 still here, should I be concerned about the flu and getting a flu shot?

 When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, followed by lockdowns and travel bans, influenza all but disappeared in Canada and other countries. Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada reveals that in the 2020-21 flu season, there were just 64 confirmed cases compared to an average of more than 52-thousand cases in each of the previous six seasons.  

 Clearly, restrictions aimed at slowing spread of the coronavirus also dramatically reduced transmission of influenza viruses in our communities. While that is encouraging, public health officials caution that it remains unclear exactly what this year’s flu season will look like and how many cases may emerge.

 COVID-19 and flu symptoms can be hard to tell apart. In fact, they have these symptoms in common:

  • fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

 Given the risks, it remains important to get your flu vaccine. Both the flu and COVID-19 can be active at the same time and, therefore, you can get sick with both infections at once. And, having both may make you more sick than getting just one.

It’s important to note the flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19. But it can help prevent the flu or reduce its symptoms.

 Beyond protecting your health, getting a flu shot also helps lessen the burden on our healthcare system and strengthen its ability to respond to COVID-19 cases and other community health needs.

Of note, if a person has suspected or confirmed COVID-19, they should hold off getting a flu vaccine until their period of quarantine or isolation has ended. This helps reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others including healthcare workers administering the flu vaccine.

Most importantly, always remember that your pharmacist is a terrific resource for any questions or concerns you have about COVID-19 and the flu shot. Express Scripts Canada Pharmacy patients are welcome to contact our pharmacy professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to all health-related questions. If it matters to our patient’s health and wellbeing, we proudly deliver it.

Until next time, this has been Ask the Pharmacist.

I wish you good health.

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