Niagara residents encouraged to get COVID and flu vaccines with holidays approaching

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Niagara Region Public Health and Niagara Health are encouraging residents to get their flu and COVID-19 vaccines in time for the holidays.

Officials say cases of COVID-19 and Influenza are high across Ontario, including Niagara, and infections are expected to peak during the holiday season. 

They say now is the time to get the shots as it can take up to two weeks for vaccines to provide protection against the viruses.

Niagara Health says this flu season strain is quite severe and two young adults have been hospitalized in the ICU with complications already.

“While anyone can get really sick from viruses like COVID-19, the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), we know there are vulnerable people in our community, such as children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, who are more at risk,” said Niagara Region Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Azim Kasmani.

ICU admissions for COVID-19 have remained stable thanks to immunity from vaccines and previous infections.

Currently pharmacies and health care providers are offering flu and COVID-19 vaccines, while Niagara Region Public Health is offering COVID-19 vaccines. 

COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, the flu shot. 

Everyone six months of age and older is recommended to get the XBB COVID-19 vaccine as long as it has been six months since they were last vaccinated or infected with COVID-19.

Officials also asking residents to use "layers of protection” to help lower the risk of getting and spreading infection, including staying home if you're sick, cleaning your hands often, spending time outdoors, covering coughs and sneezes, and wearing a mask.

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