Quebec is advancing its annual flu vaccination campaign by a month in order to combine it with that against COVID-19. From October 1, you can receive both injections at the same time.
Quebec health authorities have been stepping up their COVID-19 vaccination efforts for the past few weeks in anticipation of the fall. They estimate that the number of cases of infection could increase when the temperatures go down and that the meetings inside are more numerous.
The campaign targets people residing in CHSLDs and private residences for the elderly (RPA), people aged 60 and over – starting with people aged 80 and over –, healthcare workers and pregnant women. The Quebec Committee on Immunization (CIQ) also recommends a vaccination against COVID-19 starting in the fall for people aged 5 and over who are immunocompromised or on dialysis, or living with a chronic illness, even if they have already received one or two booster doses earlier this year.
The recommended interval for vaccination is five months after your last injection or three months since you had COVID-19. The delay is also three months between the basic vaccination and the first booster dose. The CIQ recommendsuse the bivalent Spikevax vaccine (Moderna) for people aged 30 and over.
An early flu season?
Public Health also decided to move up the flu vaccination campaign after noting that the flu season started earlier in countries in the southern hemisphere.
Like all countries in the northern hemisphere, Quebec and Canada observe the influenza season in the south to try to predict what awaits them and adapt the vaccines to the strains in circulation. This year Australia had its strongest season in five years and it started earlier. Young children were the most affected, but older people suffered more severe complications.
Health authorities strongly recommend that seniors aged 75 and over and vulnerable people receive an influenza vaccine. These clienteles can also get vaccinated for free, as can children and adults with certain chronic diseases, pregnant women, health care workers and relatives of people at high risk of hospitalization or death.
A double vaccination
The flu vaccine may be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the details on the places and the modalities have not yet been specified.
The pharmacists contacted by Protégez-vous have not received a directive from Public Health on the locations of the double vaccination and whether it will be accessible in pharmacies. These informations will be updated before the start of the campaign vaccination planned for the beginning of October, indicates the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Marie-Hélène Émond.
From a medical point of view, simultaneous vaccination of COVID-19 and influenza is not contraindicated. According to the D.re Quach-Thanh, president of the CIQ, the production of the antibodies of the two vaccines does not seem to be altered by their co-administration.
Vaccination against influenza at the same time as against COVID-19 “is acceptable and can increase the effectiveness of the program” for people 4 years of age and older, says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization guide (CCNI).
The new recommendations of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) go in the same direction. The latter specifies that the simultaneous administration of the vaccine against COVID-19 and the influenza vaccine can help increase vaccination coverage against these two diseases, because it does not require people to return for a second visit, specifies son guide for pharmacists.
It is possible to be infected alternately by the flu and COVID-19, and even by both at the same time. The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against influenza. Since the two viruses cause similar symptoms, the only way to tell them apart with certainty is to get tested for COVID-19. It is therefore important to test yourself regularly in the presence of symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue and loss of smell or taste.