New vaccines available for students on campus

Flu shot available in UC Pharmacy, new expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster

The University Centre (UC) Pharmacy began offering this year’s flu shot last week. Both regular and high-dose flu vaccines are available. Appointments can be made by calling University Health Service or dropping by the pharmacy.

Cara Follows, director of student services for U of M’s Science Students’ Association, was excited to see that walk-in flu shots are now available at the UC Pharmacy.

“It makes it very easy to get a flu shot,” she said.

Follows said that there are multiple reasons to get the flu shot this year, including the protection of the elderly and people who are immunocompromised against a constantly transforming virus. She said that she would appreciate it if her classmates would get it as well.

The shot is used to prevent influenza, a highly contagious respiratory illness that afflicts the throat, nose and lungs. Symptoms can be present for seven to 10 days. Although often wrongly viewed as being similar to a common cold, influenza can be extremely damaging for the elderly, infants and people with pre-existing medical conditions or who already suffer from other diseases.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the flu shot is the best way to defend oneself against influenza. Since the flu is constantly transforming, a new dose is created every year.

Last year, only 39 per cent of Canadian adults got the flu shot, a one percent drop off from the year before. Most Canadians who got the shot were vaccinated in the months of October and November, during flu season, when the virus’ most highly circulated time of the year begins.

Flu season typically starts around October and ends in April, peaking between December and February. Because of this, it is strongly recommended by Canadian health organizations for anyone over the age of six months to get the vaccine, in order to prevent people from getting sick, lessen the spread of the virus and reduce further stressors on the health-care system amid the ongoing pandemic.

The COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine — a new vaccine that protects against both the original and Omicron strains of COVID-19 — became available for people aged 12 and up Oct. 13.

With versions from both Pfizer and Moderna, the vaccine has shown better results for people who have contracted the Omicron strain of COVID-19. Manitoba Public Health recommends anyone who is eligible for their next booster shot to get the new vaccine.

Follows said she will be getting the new bivalent COVID-19 booster, and listed the constant mutation of the virus as a reason for staying up to date on her vaccinations.

“I just had COVID two weeks ago,” she said.

“I am going to get it in a few months, once my so-called immunity has worn off.”

Appointments can be made by booking online, contacting the vaccine call centre (1-844-626-8222) or reaching out to medical clinics and pharmacies directly.