Health experts in British Columbia are warning that this year’s flu season could be particularly nasty, and are urging people to get their flu shots and follow the same precautions that help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While pandemic precautions made the past two flu seasons unusually mild, Australia, which experienced its flu season earlier this year, had its worst season in five years, according to health officials such as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Health officials are concerned that the back-to-school season, paired with relaxed public health restrictions, could spell the same fate for B.C.

“We haven’t seen the flu in the last few years. But people are traveling more. We’re doing more together,” Henry said during Tuesday’s announcement of the COVID-19 fall vaccine booster. “We look at what happened in Australia, New Zealand, we see that the flu was a pretty bad season last year for them and it came early.”

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Read more:

Australia’s flu season is off to a wild start. Is it a ‘precursor’ to Canada?

Flu season typically starts in late October to early November, but can come even earlier this year.

Dr. Henry says the flu vaccine is only a few weeks away and she encourages everyone to get the shot.

Click to play video: 'BC Health Officials Announce Fall Immunization Campaign'

BC health officials announce fall vaccination campaign

BC health officials announce fall vaccination campaign

Meanwhile, health experts like London Drugs Pharmacy and Vice President of Healthcare Innovation Chris Chu are urging people to follow COVID-19 precautions.

“They call it COVID precautions, but it can help with any type of virus,” he said. “One of the things we did is wear a mask and what that protects other people when you wear it because you prevent when you’re talking to other people from projecting to other people.”

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Chu recommends people make an appointment to get their flu shot through the government’s website.

Click to play video: 'Low COVID vaccination rates for BC kids could spell trouble for cold and flu season'

Low COVID vaccination rates for children in BC could spell trouble for cold and flu season

Low COVID vaccination rates for children in BC could spell trouble for cold and flu season

Influenza vaccination would also go a long way toward taking the pressure off hospitals and staff, according to Dr. Horacio Bach, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia.

“We have hospitals with major problems. We are understaffed. A lot of hospitals on weekends in rural areas closed because we don’t have people there,” he said. “We don’t want to overload these hospitals with cases of influenza plus COVID-19. We have to be vigilant.”

With files from Emad Agahi

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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