Patients in Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to receive a flu shot from a participating family doctor at no cost, at least for this fall and winter.
That’s the word from the association representing N.L. doctors, which says the provincial government has reversed a 2017 decision that eliminated coverage of influenza vaccines under MCP.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) says the move is being made on a temporary basis for the current flu season and describes it as “welcome news” for doctors and patients alike.
“We are facing a global pandemic and it is extremely important to ensure that all citizens of our province have maximum flu shot protection. Increasing our influenza vaccination rate will help alleviate the burden on our health care system, which will require surge capacity to deal with a possible second wave of COVID-19,” said NLMA president Dr. Lynette Powell in a press release.
The release reiterated flu shots are especially important for people who are at greater risk of complications, such as seniors, young children, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.
“While a flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, it will protect you from getting influenza, which causes more than 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year,” said Dr. Powell.
“Newfoundland and Labrador has an aging population and some of the highest rates of chronic disease in the country. That’s why this flu season, we are asking everyone over the age of six months to get the flu shot.”
"Increasing our influenza vaccination rate will help alleviate the burden on our health care system, which will require surge capacity to deal with a possible second wave of COVID-19." — NLMA president Dr. Lynette Powell
Details about flu shot availability will be released by Public Health later this fall, according to the association.
“Family doctors will provide a huge and immediate increase in the health care system’s capacity to deliver flu shots. We are widely distributed across the province and we have close relationships with vulnerable populations. Family doctors are also able to identify their high-risk patients within their practices to ensure these individuals are vaccinated,” said Dr. Powell, adding that the NLMA remains committed to advocating for the permanent reinstatement of MCP coverage for the influenza vaccination.
“We need to permanently increase the province’s low influenza vaccination rate, not just during COVID-19,” she said,