'Just get them both done': Dr. Chris Mackie on COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot

The medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is hoping people will get their flu shot “in droves” this year.

Speaking at Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Chris Mackie was asked by CTV News London about the upcoming flu season and what his advice is for people who may be hesitant to get the flu shot while the COVID-19 vaccine is also front and centre.

“I believe that as long as we have mask mandates in place that we won't see much influenza,” said Mackie. “We're not seeing much in Canada at all, it's pretty close to zero most weeks, that's largely attributable to the mask.”

Last winter, the flu was almost nonexistent due to lockdowns and public health measures aimed at cutting down COVID-19 cases, but experts are warning that this year, we may see a resurgence.

Traditionally, winter is the start of cold and flu season as people head inside to avoid the cold weather. Last year, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) only reported 79 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in its 2020-21 season, a fraction of the 54,000 cases logged the year before that.

But now, doctors across the country are reporting an increase in children and adults with colds and respiratory viruses.

“Whether it's going to be a sort of classic seasonal surge like we typically see or whether it'll still be muted by the fact that we have a fair bit of public health measures still in many places in Canada, that's the variable that we don't know what impact that's going to have,” Infectious Disease Expert, Dr. Gerald Evans, told CTVNews.ca.

Pharmacist Peter Yurek says last year there was a problem getting shot doses, but that’s not the case this time around, adding he already has some.

“Last year was difficult getting supply, it was well into November before we had a reliable supply for the flu vaccine,” said Yurek. “This year the government made a few changes, they are using a few distributors and they’ve sort of divided up the province.”

Dr. Mackie also said if you haven’t received a COVID-19 shot yet you can still do so, in tandem with the flu shot.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has assessed the data and determined that you shouldn’t delay either shot.  If you want to get your flu shot one week and your COVID shot the next week that’s fine you can get them both as the same time the order doesn’t matter, just get them both done.  

— With files from CTV London’s Nick Paparella and CTVNews.ca