COVID Risk Expected to Stimulate Higher Uptake of Flu Vaccinations

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Farmscape for October 21, 2020

Full Interview 10:28 Listen

An Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine expects concerns over COVID-19 to stimulate a higher uptake of flu vaccinations this season. Each year health officials encourage the public to get vaccinated for the seasonal flu. This year, as the result of concerns over the spread of COVID-19 for which we don’t yet have an authorised vaccine, that call is being amplified. Dr. Susan Detmer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says if you get influenza your defences will weaken making you more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Clip-Dr. Susan Detmer-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
Typically only about 20 percent of the population gets the influenza vaccine each year. During the 2009 pandemic we had a vaccine by October-November of 2009 but we actually only got about 40 percent uptake in the influenza vaccine in the United States which was surprising. People discovered that there wasn’t as many people dying of that strain of influenza so they decided they’d risk it and what ended up happening is the virus was able to spread more easily because people weren’t protected.

Last year the highest amount of influenza that the CDC was able to detect in people was the pandemic virus which had evolved and changed.
This virus has been evolving over the last decade in people and becoming more virulent in some cases because that’s what viruses do. They get around the vaccine and they change so that they can keep infecting and spreading.

Dr. Detmer we have a huge opportunity to reduce the spread of influenza and COVID disease in all of our populations. She says staying at home when your sick, working from home when you’re able, getting your flu vaccine, washing your hands, wearing a mask offers an opportunity to prevent massive disease in humans this winter.

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