About one-third of British Columbians will likely forego the flu and COVID-19 vaccines this fall.
Nearly half of people in B.C. say they are tired of having to get vaccinated and are experiencing vaccine fatigue, according to a new report conducted by Abacus Data on behalf of the Canadian Pharmacist Association. Vaccine fatigue significantly reduces willingness to get immunized against the respiratory viruses circulating this fall.
It comes as B.C. has reinstated masking at hospitals, clinics and long-term care homes beginning Oct. 3.
“After consecutive years intensely focused on vaccines due to the pandemic, British Columbians may be inclined to tune out this year, but getting immunized remains critical to protecting yourself and the most vulnerable,” said Christine Antler, a 15-year veteran pharmacist and the region director of pharmacy for Pharmasave.
However, about 42 per cent of British Columbians say they definitely will get a flu shot, which is an increase from last year’s 36 per cent. When it comes to the COVID-19 or vaccine, about 35 per cent say they don’t intend to get it, while 55 per cent say they probably will.
Vancouver-based Pharmasave pharmacist Minmin Xiang said a lot of seniors and people between the ages of 20 and 30 have come through the pharmacy inquiring about the flu and COVID vaccines.
“From what I can recall compared to last year, the uptake on it and the inquiry of vaccines seems to be pretty steady and we do have quite a lot of people from the community every day coming and asking about when they can get the flu shots this year and when they can get the COVID shots.”
Xiang explained that the flu shot will be available in early October.
Antler added that the threat of respiratory viruses, including influenza and COVID, are still very much a concern. Last year, the combination of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID circulating simultaneously put significant pressure on emergency departments across the province.
“Vaccines are the most effective tools we have to help prevent illness and the spread, protecting the most vulnerable in our communities and reducing the potential strain on the health care system.”
Xiang said that if people are feeling sick to stay home or mask up if you need to go out.
“Pharmacists now able to prescribe for some medical ailments, so instead of having to wait for a long period of time in the ER or at a walk-in clinic they can first try maybe a local pharmacy first to see if the pharmacist is able to diagnose or help with their minor ailment before going to the ER or urgent care.”