You can get a COVID-19 vaccination and annual flu shot at the same time, Windsor Essex County Health Unit director of health protection Kristy McBeth said Thursday.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which makes recommendations on the use of vaccines in Canada, recommended recently that the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered at the same time or any time before or after other vaccines, including the flu shot.
Previously, the committee had recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be administered at least 28 days before or 14 days after other shots as a precautionary measure.
After reviewing the evolving evidence on COVID-19 vaccines and considering the extensive data on administering other routine vaccines at the same time or within days of each other, the committee has determined that the earlier, precautionary approach is no longer necessary.
The new recommendation is expected to help the rollout of the flu shot this fall as well as make it easier for people to get other vaccines they may have missed during the pandemic.
The flu shot is free in Ontario and available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Hospitals, long-term care homes, doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics and pharmacies here have already received their supplies.
People over age 65 and those at risk of complications from flu have been given priority and are receiving the vaccine now. The shot will be available to the general public in November.
The health unit will begin promoting the shot more widely next month.
“We will be doing some extra promotion, urging people to get it,” McBeth told the health unit’s board of directors.
Between 150,000 and 200,000 doses are expected to be administered here this season, up from 97,000 last year.
Ontario has ordered 7.6 million doses this year, 1.4 million more than last year, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday.
There were few cases of flu last season because many people worked from home, their children learned remotely and the economy and society were locked down.
But more cases are expected this season because many people have returned to offices, schools have reopened and many restrictions have been lifted, allowing people to be out in the community more and to socialize and travel.
People are being urged to get the flu shot to avoid overwhelming hospitals that are still caring for COVID-19 patients.