The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is raising concerns about the falling demand for flu shots ahead of what could be a challenging flu season. According to a new national survey conducted by Abacus Data, only 50% of Canadians say they will get the flu shot this year, down 6 points from a survey conducted in 2021.
“With fewer Canadians planning on getting a flu shot this year, we are very worried about the impact that could have on flu spread in our communities,” said Dr. Danielle Paes, Chief Pharmacist Officer, CPhA. “The unseasonal spike in respiratory illnesses this summer combined with the influenza rates we’ve seen in the southern hemisphere could signal a difficult flu season ahead.”
Emerging data from the southern hemisphere suggests Canada will also see a more severe flu season with a return to pre-pandemic influenza levels. After two years with record low flu activity, largely attributed to the public health measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, we need to prepare for a more typical flu season—which is especially concerning as our health system struggles with significant staff shortages and capacity issues.
Pharmacists are gearing up for another busy fall, with a growing number of Canadians planning to visit their pharmacy for their flu shot—62% of those planning on getting a flu shot will get it at a pharmacy, up 6 points since last year. Pharmacies’ accessibility makes getting a flu shot easy and convenient, close to home. Pharmacies should start receiving their flu shot supply throughout October.
“We are urging Canadians to get their flu shot once its available this season,” added Paes. “It’s the best way to help protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu. We need to do all we can to limit the spread of influenza within our communities and ensure that our already struggling health system is not overwhelmed by a sharp rise of flu cases this fall.”