Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health has confirmed that they have successfully secured additional doses of the influenza vaccine for the region this year.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced in June that Public Health had appealed to the province for more doses of the flu shot. He said that the region would need to “prepare for the worst” if the request didn’t come through.
Influenza typically causes a 10 to 15 per cent admission pattern in KFL&A area hospitals, Dr. Moore noted, as well as a 20 to 30 per cent increase in emergency department visits. COVID-19 and the flu also present similarly, particularly in adult patients, meaning a high flu prevalence could strain local COVID-19 testing capacity, as people try to distinguish the ailments.
By inoculating more people against influenza, Public Health hopes to reduce the overall strain it typically exerts on the health care system, and spare resources for managing COVID-19.
The Ontario government appears to be applying the same logic. On Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2020, the province’s Health Minister Christine Elliot unveiled details of a fall pandemic response plan. The first of six “pillars” in the plan is aggressive flu vaccination.
“The Ontario government is implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history,” the government announced. “The campaign is part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.”
The campaign includes the provision of 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government, 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for seniors, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions, according to the provincial plans.
Ontario typically sees a flu vaccination rates of 30 to 40 per cent, Dr. Moore said in June.
According to KFL&A Public Health, the flu vaccine is expected to be available early to mid-October. The flu shot is administered by a primary care provider offices for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older.
Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com