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Amid COVID-19, More Canadians Plan to Get Flu Shot this Fall: Pharmasave Survey

Study shows almost half of respondents unsure if flu shot helps
prevent COVID-19, while eight per cent think it does.


September 15, 2020 – As flu season approaches and the country plans for a potential second wave of COVID-19, a survey conducted by Pharmasave shows that more Canadians plan to get a flu shot this fall as compared to last year.

In a study of more than 7,000 consumers across Ontario and Atlantic Canada, 86 per cent of respondents said they plan to get a flu shot this year – up from 78 per cent who said they were immunized last year.

When asked if they think the flu shot lowers the risk of contracting COVID-19, eight per cent of respondents said they think it does, while almost half (49 per cent) said they don’t know.

So why the rise in flu shot interest?

“Based on the survey, as well as the surge of inquiries our pharmacies are receiving on a daily basis, it’s clear that there’s a collective uneasiness among Canadians about their health as we head into the colder weather,” said Jaspreet Chager, Senior Manager, Pharmacy Innovation of Pharmasave East.

“In fact, more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed who said COVID-19 has affected their flu shot decision said they’re feeling more nervous about getting sick this year, so they plan to get vaccinated,” she said.

Chager emphasized the reality is that the flu shot won’t protect against COVID-19 since the virus is different. What it will do, however, is help ease the strain on the health care system – which could become overwhelmed treating both flu patients and patients with COVID-19 – and so healthcare professionals recommend vaccinations for everyone over the age of six months, she said.

Flu shots will be available in Canada starting mid-October and can be obtained at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy.

With symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 being so similar – especially fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, aches and pains and loss of appetite – how can you tell the difference between the two?

“Since every case is different, it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional about your symptoms, and your pharmacist is a good place to start for guidance,” Chager said, adding that shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell are symptoms associated with the coronavirus but not with the flu. “Still, because both the flu and COVID-19 can present in similar ways, the answer may come down to getting a COVID-19 test to rule out anything more than the flu.”

If you do come down with the flu, Chager recommends getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids. It is also a good idea to speak with your pharmacist about over-the-counter medication that may help with your symptoms – such as cold and sinus medicine, cough syrup, throat lozenges, or acetaminophen or Ibuprofen – to reduce any fever or aches. She also suggests contacting your doctor if you are in a high-risk group or are feeling ill and worried about your condition.

To help Canadians prepare for flu season, Pharmasave has developed a checklist of medicine cabinet must-haves, as well as a chart comparing the differences between COVID-19, flu and cold symptoms, both available for download at


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