Respiratory Virus Going Around: Vaccination Updates and Recommendations

Respiratory Virus Going Around: Vaccination Updates and Recommendations

As Nova Scotia enters the respiratory virus season, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s top doctor, emphasizes the importance of updating vaccinations. While COVID-19 cases are increasing, the numbers remain lower than during peak pandemic waves.

Understanding the Need for Vaccinations

Data from the province reveals a rise in COVID-19 cases. In August, there were 440 PCR-positive cases, 38 hospitalizations, and two deaths. Although these numbers increased compared to the previous month, hospitalizations and deaths remained relatively stable.

Dr. Strang highlights that it’s not just COVID-19; all respiratory viruses pose a risk, making vaccination a new normal. He encourages residents to get both their COVID-19 boosters and flu shots this fall.

Low Uptake of Booster Shots

Dr. Strang expresses concern about the low uptake of COVID-19 vaccine boosters, even in higher-risk groups. For many, it’s been almost a year since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, making it crucial to get both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine this fall.

Mixed Reactions to Vaccination

While some people in downtown Halifax are eager to schedule their vaccinations, others are more hesitant. Many are pro-vaccination, recognizing the importance of protecting themselves and those around them.

However, there are individuals who have never received a flu shot and are not planning to get vaccinated. For those who wish to get vaccinated, the province will start opening appointments next week.

High-Dose Flu Vaccine for Seniors

In a new development, Nova Scotia is offering the high-dose flu vaccine for free to residents aged 65 and older. Vaccinations will start at pharmacies and outreach clinics on a designated schedule.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Dr. Strang also acknowledges early cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and anticipates more later in the fall and winter. However, the RSV vaccine, recently approved by Health Canada, is not currently covered by the provincial health plan. The province is waiting for recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) regarding RSV vaccines in 2024.

Other Public Health Measures

Dr. Strang reiterates the importance of measures like masking and testing. He advises anyone with respiratory symptoms to stay home. If staying home is not possible, wearing a surgical or N95 mask is essential. Testing for COVID-19 is only necessary for those in high-risk categories.

Vaccinations Remain Crucial

As Nova Scotia prepares for the respiratory virus season, the message is clear: vaccinations are vital in protecting public health during this period. It’s a collective effort to safeguard the community from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and the flu.

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