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Dr. James Dickinson, a University of Calgary professor who runs the Alberta community influenza surveillance program, said it is impossible to predict what the upcoming flu season will look like, and what the interplay between influenza and the novel coronavirus might be.
But he said Albertans, particularly those in vulnerable groups, should prepare for a worst-case scenario by getting their vaccines.
“With COVID, all of the precautions we’re taking will likely work with influenza, so it’s quite likely that we’ll have less respiratory infections than usual,” Dickinson said. “But you just never know, and influenza in particular changes so dramatically from year to year that we might get something really bad, or we might have a very light season.”
When Alberta’s flu season will begin is also up in the air, Dickinson said, with the possibility that cases won’t ramp up until January or February.
At a press conference Friday, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans to get their flu shot, saying it was “the right thing to do.”
“The flu shot won’t protect COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others,” she said. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our health system with be to support those with COVID-19.”
Last flu season, 33 per cent of Albertans received flu shots. It’s the highest inoculation rate since the province began offering free flu shots in 2009.