EAST CENTRAL — COVID-19 may be the focus of public attention, but a more familiar threat is still expected to come as it does every year – influenza.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is encouraging residents to get the vaccine for this year’s strain of flu.
“It is very important to get your flu shot to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially during a pandemic when there is a novel virus at the same time for which no vaccine is available yet,” said a spokesperson with the authority via email.
Influenza and COVID-19 share many symptoms. According to the Centres for Disease Control, both can result in fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea.
Symptoms that COVID-19 doesn’t share with influenza include a change or a loss of one’s sense of smell.
Influenza’s symptoms usually develop about one to four days after being infected, while COVID-19 symptoms usually develop after five days. Symptoms for COVID-19 can develop from as short as two days to as long as 14 days after infection.
“The SHA is finalizing plans for the fall to immunize more people than usual based on what was experienced in the Southern Hemisphere, where some countries saw an increase up to 40 per cent in people getting immunized against influenza,” the SHA spokesperson said.
The health ministry is ordering more influenza vaccine to meet the expected demand.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said they are planning flu shot clinics with safety in mind.
“This means it will take into account pre-screening clients, physical distancing, using appropriate personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves as well as implementing other necessary infection control practices,” the spokesperson said.
“All of this will be done while attempting to make use of every healthcare encounter to promote and/or administer the influenza vaccine, including being offered and receiving an influenza immunization before being discharged from hospital.”
If somebody is experiencing the symptoms shared by COVID-19 and influenza, the authority asks they call 811 and get tested for COVID-19, as well as get a flu shot in a non-public setting.
“It is important for people to remember, however, that if they’re experiencing any symptoms to follow the above and not attend a public influenza immunization clinic.”