P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is expecting flu season to be bigger and to start earlier this year.
She said in an interview with CBC News: Compass Wednesday that the forecast is based on the influenza season experienced by countries in the Southern Hemisphere, which she says has been one of the biggest in the last five years.
Morrison said that flu cases will be a factor the province will be looking at if it decides to further COVID-19 restrictions in schools this fall.
"If it comes early, what will that mean for Islanders if we have COVID as well as influenza?" she said.
"So it really reinforces the importance of making sure we're up-to-date with our COVID vaccines, but also our influenza vaccine when that becomes available."
Last week, the province announced masks won't be mandatory when classes begin on Sept. 7, though the CPHO has said that could change if further restrictions are needed.
Morrison has previously said that with an expected COVID-19 wave in the fall, the province will be monitoring several factors before adjusting its plans, including infection and positivity rates, hospitalizations and emerging variants.
"We anticipate when we get students all in the same place, it's possible we'll see a slight surge in cases," she said.
"I'm hoping that that will not be extreme. I hope that won't be too much and I hope that it won't result in an increase in severe illness, and that's why we're monitoring that so closely."