Flu vaccine now available in N.S., province announces

Dr. Robert Strang (Communications N.S. photo)

HALIFAX: Starting Oct. 17, Nova Scotians can book their seasonal influenza vaccine appointment with appointments beginning Saturday, October 22.

The influenza vaccine will be available for free to all Nova Scotians over six months old from most pharmacies, family doctors, nurse practitioners and family practice nurses across the province.

“The best way to limit the spread of influenza is to get vaccinated and continue to use the same healthy habits that we have used during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By staying up to date on all vaccinations and staying home when sick, we are helping to keep our communities healthy.”

All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get the annual influenza vaccine, especially people at high risk of developing influenza-related complications and those who care for them. People with a higher risk include adults over 65, children six months to five years old, pregnant people, those in crowded living situations, residents of long-term care facilities and people with chronic illness.

People five years old and older can safely receive the influenza vaccine before, after or even at the same time as receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

As a precaution, children ages six months to four years need to wait 14 days between receiving their influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccinations do not protect against influenza, and the influenza vaccine does not protect against COVID-19.

It can take up to two weeks for the influenza vaccination to provide protection. Nova Scotians should get vaccinated in the coming weeks to see the full benefit before influenza season starts, which is usually late December to early January, but there have been a few influenza cases in the province already.

Appointments at pharmacies can be booked online at https://novascotia.flow.canimmunize.ca/en/covid-flu-booking or by calling 1-833-797-7772. Vaccine scheduling by phone is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

People who prefer to get an influenza vaccine from a family doctor, nurse practitioner or family practice nurse can book an appointment by calling the clinic directly.

Quick Facts:
— Nova Scotia has ordered 474,000 doses of the influenza vaccine this year
— people cannot catch the seasonal flu from receiving the influenza vaccination
— seasonal flu symptoms often include a sudden high fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny, stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat
— children ages six months to eight years old who have never had an influenza vaccine are recommended to receive two doses of the influenza vaccine four weeks apart
— people with any one symptom of the seasonal flu or COVID-19 should complete a COVID-19 self-assessment to determine if they need a COVID-19 test because the symptoms are similar for both illnesses

Additional Resources:
For more information on influenza and the vaccine, visit: https://novascotia.ca/flu/