Fall brings many great things from the beauty of the leaves changing colour to relief from the summer heat and humidity. It’s also the start of flu season. This year, in addition to the annual flu strains that are circulating, there are two other viruses to be wary of: RSV and COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know about each.
The flu, short for influenza, is not one, but a variety of contagious viruses that circulate year-round. In Canada, flu season starts around October, right when we start spending more time indoors. Common symptoms include headaches, chills and a cough. A fever, muscle aches and general fatigue can also occur. But the flu is nothing to sneeze at. Every year, approximately 3,500 Canadians die from flu-related complications.
Health officials around the world work together to determine the most threatening flu strains going around and develop a flu vaccine that targets the most prevalent strains. The strains and vaccine formulation change every year, which is why you should get your shot annually.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common, highly contagious virus that affects the lungs and airways. RSV is increasingly recognized as a major health threat, particularly to young children, those who are immunocompromised and older adults. Although the virus can affect all ages, its impact on older adults is significant. The virus can cause severe respiratory issues, including pneumonia. This past August, Health Canada approved a new RSV vaccine in Canada for people 60 and over.
As much as we’d all like it to just be a distant memory, COVID-19 variants are still circulating around the world. In fact, it’s expected that the COVID-19 virus will continue to mutate and will eventually become part of the strains that make up the seasonal flu.
This year, Health Canada is recommending that everyone five years and older who has completed their initial series of COVID-19 vaccines get a booster shot.
You can get your flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time at local pharmacies like Rexall.
Learn more about vaccines at rexall.ca