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Flu shots, COVID-19 boosters crucial ahead of 'difficult' fall: Health Minister


During the federal Health Minister's visit to Quebec to sign a flu vaccine deal, a similar topic -- COVID-19 vaccines -- inevitably came up.

Minister Jean-Yves Duclos' message to Canadians was clear: booster shots are crucial.

"We have more work to do," Duclos said Friday at the Quebec City GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pharmaceutical plant.

He noted that while Canada has the highest rate of people with two doses of the vaccine among G7 countries, it ranks lowest in terms of booster shots.

In Quebec, about 55 percent of the population have received a third dose, while just 16 per cent have received a fourth, according to the provincial Health Ministry.

By comparison, 91 per of eligible Quebecers have received at least one shot.

The province has officially entered its seventh wave of infections, with case numbers and hospitalizations on the rise. According to public health officials, the Omicron BA.5 subvariant makes up about half of new cases in Quebec.

Duclos said keeping up with booster shots is critical to managing infection rates and preventing the further overwhelming of an already-burdened health system.

"We know that up-to-date vaccination reduces the risk of infection, transmission, severe disease, hospitalization and long-COVID. In short, vaccination brings protection and saves lives," he said.

While the federal government is not mandating booster doses, it says that if your last dose was more than nine months ago, you are no longer considered adequately vaccinated.


In preparation for the fall flu season, Duclos was in Quebec Friday to pen a deal with GSK to produce millions of additional influenza vaccines.

The deal promises at least four million annual doses for government flu vaccine programs.

It also ensures the production of 80 million additional doses in the event of an influenza pandemic.

Duclos encouraged Canadians to get both the flu and the COVID-19 shot in preparing for what he said will be a "difficult" fall.

Nima Machouf, an epidemiologist based in Montreal, agrees.

She said opting for both the flu and the COVID-19 shot is the safest approach -- particularly if you're older than 65.

She added that while it's far from ideal to require COVID-19 vaccines every six months, the antibodies simply don't last that long, meaning it's the best option.

"A vaccine that gives us protection for at least four months is better than not being protected for those four months," she told CTV News.

While many are tired of hearing about vaccines, Machouf said, the fact remains: some people will get sick, and could have symptoms that last for months -- a risk that's reduced by up-to-date vaccinations.  

With files from CTV's Spencer Van Dyk. Top Stories

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